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Comparative Decision Making$
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Thomas R. Zentall and Philip H. Crowley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199856800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856800.001.0001

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Increasing the Accuracy of Criminal Justice Decision Making

Increasing the Accuracy of Criminal Justice Decision Making

(p.353) Chapter 12 Increasing the Accuracy of Criminal Justice Decision Making
Comparative Decision Making

Sarah A. Crowley

Peter J. Neufeld

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses decision making by the U.S. criminal justice system. Documentation by the Innocence Project of more than 280 wrongful convictions exposes a serious systemic accuracy problem. Faulty evidence and procedural failures may be much more widespread than these uniquely conclusive DNA-based examples because of an overemphasis on achieving finality. The trade-off between making a decision sooner or more deliberately has relevance to many personal or institutional decisions. Here, there is the additional element that guilt or innocence is already a fact, and the process weighs evidence in an attempt to establish the truth of one or the other. Reaching a decision (finality) and reaching the right decision (accuracy) are both important to society, but the stigma of accusation and conviction, suffering of victims, and political and institutional pressure can bias the system toward finality. The authors propose systemic changes using methods employed in other institutions.

Keywords:   decision making, criminal justice, United States, systemic accuracy, finality, evidence, stigma, suffering, institutional pressure

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