The Decision-Making Network presents criminal justice to undergraduate students as a network of interrelated decisions made by diverse actors in multiple agencies. Legislative decisions about what should be the content of the criminal law, police officers’ decisions regarding investigation and arrest, prosecutors’ decisions regarding whether to prosecute and what charges to bring, judges’ decisions, appellate court decisions, juries’ decisions, correctional decisions … all comprise the complex network of criminal justice.
This text examines criminal justice decisions in historical context with attention to the Constitutional values and principles which undergird American criminal justice. Students learn how crises often drive the making of law, the development of policies, and the practice of criminal justice. It examines the tensions between civil liberties and public safety, and it introduces the challenges of terrorism, immigration, drug enforcement, and other emerging issues which confront the criminal justice decision maker.