Taming the System: The Control of Discretion in Criminal Justice, 1950-1990

By Samuel Walker | Go to book overview

Conclusions

In the end, what have we accomplished? After more than thirty years of intensive agitation, litigation, research, and reform, have we brought police discretion under control? A fair assessment would be that we have made a start. We have succeeded in imposing some control over some decisions. Many--even most--important decisions remain untouched. Nor can we say with absolute certainty that the rules that do exist work as intended (although the research on the deadly force rules is very persuasive). It would be easy to focus on how much has not been accomplished and to cite current headlines about police misconduct (the beating of Rodney King) as evidence that no improvements have been made. This would be a mistake. Rather, we should examine the positive gains that have been made and attempt to draw some lessons about the possibilities for further progress. The principal accomplishments and failures of the past thirty years can be summarized as follows.

First, and most important, we have brought the issue of police discretion into the open. It is now out of shadows and into the realm of public debate. This alone is an enormous accomplishment. Unlike thirty years ago, we now have a realistic understanding of what police officers do as well as a reasonable understanding of why they act the way they do and the problems that are associated with discretion. Although we are impressed with the difficulty of controlling discretion, this is an improvement over the blissful ignorance that prevailed thirty years ago.

Second, we have succeeded in establishing the principle of accountability. If we do not fully implement this principle in practice, at least we know what our ideal is. Police officers should be held accountable for their actions. There are things they must do and things they must not do. And we have a network of rules designed to implement those commands. The most important thing is that the principle of accountability is recognized by police officers, criminal suspects, and citizens alike. Every junior high school student knows that suspects are entitled to their "Miranda rights." They often have the details wrong, but the principle that there are limits on police officer behavior, and penalties for breaking those rules, is firmly established. To an extent that we understand only imperfectly at present, we may have succeeded in altering the context of the police subculture, establishing both the principle and the mechanics of accountability as facts of life in police work.

-52-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Taming the System: The Control of Discretion in Criminal Justice, 1950-1990
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Discretion and Its Discontents 3
  • 2 - Police Discretion 21
  • Conclusions 52
  • 3 - The Two Bail Reform Movements 54
  • Conclusions 79
  • 4 - The Plea-Bargaining Problem 81
  • Conclusions 108
  • 5 - Sentencing Reform 112
  • Conclusions 141
  • 6 - A System Tamed? an Interim Report on the Control of Discretion 145
  • Conclusion 156
  • Notes 157
  • Index 185
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 200

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.