Chain Reactions in Criminal Justice

Discretion and the Necessity of Interdisciplinary Research

By Maartje van der Woude

Discretionary power resides at all levels of the criminal justice chain. Whereas discretion is seen to be necessary for a proper and efficient functioning of the criminal justice system, it is more often seen as a problem for legal and public policy due to its potential for injustice or for social advancement. For a concept this central to the criminal justice system, both as a virtue and a burden, it is interesting to see that research into discretion and discretionary decision-making is somewhat limited, or at least isolated, by discipline. Legal scholars have been mostly concerned with clarifying the concept itself and exploring its relationship with rules and the extent to which rules authorize discretionary behavior. In contrast, the interest of many social scientists has been in analyzing the law in action so as to further an understanding of how the words of law may-or may not-be translated into legal action. By defining 'discretion' as decision-making they accentuate different aspects of discretion, making it impossible to gain a full oversight and deep notion of the greater effects of discretion on the various levels-and the interplay between these levels-of the criminal justice chain. By drawing from her research on ethnic profiling, crimmigration, and counterterrorism legislation, Van der Woude aims to illustrate not only the centrality of the notion of discretion in various criminal justice matters, but she also aims to illustrate the necessity of seeing and researching discretion as an interdisciplinary concept. This book is an extended version of a lecture that the author gave on the occasion of accepting the Ada and Paul Cornil Prize March 2015. [Subject: Criminal Law]

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Format: Paper
ISBN: 9789462367142

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