Sample Criminal Justice Research Paper Summary on Police Discretion

Police Discretion

Due to the challenge of digression from acceptable operation standards, police discretion is recognized as a tool that can be used success fully for the advancements of the professional credentials of the police force. Discretion in this case refers to the authority accorded to the police to make individual decisions that they consider would be the best course of action where there are a variety f options to choose from. Since the law does not provide for every circumstance in the work of the police, the officers are at discretion to make decisions in certain situations. For instance, police discretion may be essential where there is need to implement a legal sanction where an action is considered to be of criminal intent.

Police discretion is applicable depending on variables such as the system in place, the criminals and the situation at hand. The gender, income brackets and mental status of individuals also affect the application of police discretion to a large extent (Carrington and Schulenberg, 2004). These are the criminal variables considered by the police in exercising discretion. On the other hand, the situational variables include past contact with the police and criminal history. The system is described through the police understanding of the law among other aspects.

Police discretion is applauded for its ability to improve the efficiency of the law enforcement process and for its effectiveness where full law enforcement is not required. On the other hand, police discretion poses certain limitations in that it can be used unfairly and can also result in indecision among the police resulting in some problems. Such problems include misuse of power and approval of street justice. In order t ensure that discretion is used fairly control measures such as imposition of regulations and recommendation of policies should be recommended (Walker, 1993).



Carrington, P. J., & Schulenberg, J. L. (2008). Structuring Police Discretion .The Effect on Referrals to Youth Court. Criminal justice policy review19(3), 349-367.

Walker, S. (1993). Taming the System: The Control of Discretion in Criminal Justice. NY: Oxford.


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