Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Delores D. Jones-Brown
Discretion within the criminal justice system is “the lawful ability of an agent of government to exercise choice in making a decision” (Neubauer 1999: 17). With regard to the office of the prosecutor, such choices include whether to begin an investigation, instruct the police to make an arrest, recommend release on bail, reduce or dismiss charges, present a case to a grand jury, offer a negotiated plea, make a sentencing recommendation, and in the most serious cases, seek the death penalty. While some federal and state prosecutors handle civil suits, the importance and power of prosecutorial discretion is most apparent in the functioning of local prosecutors who represent the citizens in their jurisdictions against people accused of crimes. The choices such prosecutors make have a profound impact on the lives of defendants and victims, and the criminal justice system as a whole. Prosecutors have been referred to as “the most ...