The proper and just use of discretion in criminal justice requires the authority to choose between and among courses of action based on ethical considerations, individual judgment, conscience, and a collective understanding of the type of crime involved and the seriousness of it. Collectively, the discretionary decisions made by criminal justice professionals are said to produce an informal criminal justice process that does not operate within the rigid confines of formal rules and laws.
Consider the first three steps of the Criminal Justice Decision Making Model, and think about the questions associated with each as you prepare to write your paper:
Step One: Define the problem (and the questions that need to be answered). Read the information on “Discretion and Ethics.” What is discretion, and how does it contribute to the criminal justice system?
Step Two: Gather evidence (law, policy, procedure, data) and evaluate for relevancy. What stories can you find in the media on the use or lack of use of discretion and/or ethics in criminal justice, and how do they influence our perceptions of it?
Step Three: Weigh moral considerations and direct/indirect consequences. Did you have any misconceptions about the use of discretion and ethics based on what you have seen in the media? If so, what were they?
Following Steps Four and Five of the Criminal Justice Decision Making Model, write a two-page essay in which you discuss what discretion is and how it can and should be used to enhance, not diminish, the criminal justice system and all of its components. As you write your essay, focus on sentence structure, making sure you write sentences with complete verbs. Also, try to avoid run-ons and comma splices. Cite your sources in APA format to support your points.
Step Four: Write your proposal, using the above material.
Step Five: Balance your position by addressing alternatives and potential pitfalls.