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Lecture 5

CRIM 3655 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Black Letter Law, Rodney King, Power Law

Course Code
CRIM 3655
James Sheptycki

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Lecture 5 11/11/2013
Another aspect of police sub culture is their relationship between law and the police
- police make up the law rule of law doesn’t tell them what to do
- police officers don’t have book of law that specifically tell them what action to take in
certain sit.
- but rather police rely on their legal power to act upon certain situations this legal
power comes in face of discretion
- as a result for police officers law is a legal tool they use to negotiate conflicts or to get
the job done
- for instance the danger authority nexus and the police officers “working personality”
(Diagram) how police and the law interact in a sit. Exigencies what they decide to do in their
legal power law appears as a tool they choose to act sometimes law acts like a tool
- sometime they will enforce the law and sometimes they won’t
- ex. Of the power attracts violence
four reason why discretion is both necessary and legitimate aspect of police work (IN
1. no legislature has succeeded in formulating laws which encompass al conduct intended
to be made criminal which clearly exclude all other conducts some knowing social actor has to
interpret the law in order to apply it written laws always leave room for discretion
2. failure to eliminate poorly drafted and obsolete legislation renders the continued
existence of discretion necessary for farness; laws that are not written very well
3. discretion is necessary cuz. Limited resources make it impossible to enforce all laws
against all offenders: and not enough resources etc
4. the strict enforcement of the law would have harsh and intolerable results sometimes
you cant enforce the law cuz you might end up starting the riot
* to think about: police discretion turn “black letter law” (the laws in the books) into “blue
letter law” the laws that get enacted out laws that are actually applied
the exercise of discretion, while is a positive aspect of police work, its also a negative aspect
of police work for instance discretion at many times involves discrimination
ex. Would be stop and search, traffic stops, and the problem of carding which is on the and
indicates (go to back to the notes)
another example would the decision to use coercive force ex. Case of Rodney King
use of tasers recent case killed a teenager boy on the bus
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this positive and negative aspect is also shown through crime control and due process model
- realize that these models are not rigid, these are theoretical abstraction they are just
abstract rep. of two values systems these value systems, ethical systems and these value
system serve our expectation about the relationship between the police and the law and also
police ‘s expectation of their relation between them and the law
- these 2 value system have tension between them
- they have mutual incompatibility
Crime control model
crime control model condenses down on 6 ideas
crime control model says the most imp. CJS model is that it controls crime we do this by
deterring criminals through fear of punishment, put them in jail the CCM has 6 premises
1) the repression of crime is the most imp. Function of criminal justice cuz. Order is a
necessary condition for a free society
2) law quite rightly gives police powers to investigate arrest, search, seize, and convict
the CJ process should move cases swiftly along toward their disposition
4) legal technicalities that handcuff the police should be minimized or eliminated
5) the main objective of the criminal justice process should be to discover the truth or to
establish the factual guilt of the accused
6) CJ should concentrate on vindicating victims rights rather that on protecting
defendants rights
- this model expresses number of values which we as society adhere too
Due process model
1. the most imp. Function of CJS is to provide due process to ensure fundamental
fairness under the law
2. police power should limited to prevent official oppression of the ind. The state is
mighty power and can easily crush is so die process condition is a way of protecting us
3. the CJ process should look like obstacle course consisting of a series of impediments
that take the form of procedural safeguards that serve as much to protect the factually innocent as
to convict the factually guilty
4. legal rights aren’t mere technicalities: criminal justice authorities should be held
accountable to rules, procedures and guidelines to ensure fairness and consistency in the justice
5)persons should not be found guilty on the basis of the facts alone but rather on legal
procedures matter and fact findings
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