Discretion in the U.S. criminal justice system was at one time defined by Roscoe Pound, a legal scholar and educator (1960) as follows: “an authority conferred by law to act in certain conditions or situations in accordance with an official’s or an official agency’s own considered judgment and conscience.” Discuss the following:
- Do you think there is too much discretion in the criminal justice system? Explain.
- Are there certain jobs or roles in the criminal trial process (from investigation through appeal) that have more discretion than other jobs or roles?
- Is there too great a concentration of discretion in particular jobs or roles in the criminal justice system?
- Do you think it would be desirable to limit the amount of discretion in the criminal justice system? If so, how would you do this? What might be the effects?
Pound, R. (1960). Discretion, dispensation and mitigation: The problem of the individual special case. New York University Law Review 35. 925, 926.