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
Amy S. Farrell
In the modern era of criminal justice research, scholars have focused much attention on understanding how the personal choices of criminal justice professionals affect the processing of individuals through the justice system. Police, prosecutors, and judges all make decisions about how cases should be handled, and these decisions can result in different outcomes for individuals who are engaged in similar behavior. Since the mid-1900s, lawmakers and scholars have become increasingly concerned with the disparate treatment of offenders in the criminal justice system because such disparities threaten a principle of modern criminal justice—defendants, regardless of their personal characteristics, should be treated equally under the law. The American Bar Foundation Survey (1953) and the President's Crime Commission (1967) identified the informal and often unchecked discretionary decisions made throughout the criminal justice system as a cause of disparate treatment. During this same period, Kenneth Culp Davis (1969) published the influential book Discretionary Justice: ...