Environmental pressures and the urban prosecutor's organization : consequences for district attorney decision-making



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The study shows that the exercise of the prosecutor's discretion varies by the jurisdiction. The study seeks to discover if it is the environment surrounding the prosecutor's domain that determines when a prosecutor's discretion is exercised or if it is an internal structural determination. Previous studies of the prosecutorial process serve as a foundation for the research hypotheses. Regression techniques are applied to environment and case disposition data from forty-two Texas prosecutorial organizations. Slight relationships are discovered between discretion in early dismissals and environmental factors. Case studies of two small and two large Texas prosecutors' offices are described through personal interviewing and observation. Questionnaires administered to the prosecutors provide data to rank the structural centralization of each prosecutorial organization. The four case studies are ranked on an environmental pressure scale constructed from the larger data set of forty-two cases. Questionnaire data reveals prosecutor's perceptions of little environmental influence on their case disposition decisions.



Prosecution, United States, Decision making