Discretional Justice


This assignment is designed to give you an inside perspective on the decision making process of correctional officials. It should also help you understand how these officials use discretion.

Find someone local in your area who works in a correctional profession. Examples could be:

  • Parole officer
  • Warden
  • Probation officer
  • Correctional officer
  • Jail/prison mental health professional
  • Jail staff
  • The assignment requires you to interview this official for five minutes using the following questions. You may also ask any additional questions that relate to the course. The interview should be a minimum of five minutes .Questions to Ask:
    • What types of decisions are you required to make in your profession?
    • What things, characteristics, or events influence these decisions?
    • Do you work on individual cases? If so…
      • What metrics are you required to use when making decisions on your cases?
      • Where are you able to depart from these?
      • Where are the gray areas?
    • Are there extra-legal characteristics that affect your decisions in your job?
    • Is there a specific case that you remember in your career, where discretion played a large role, or was particularly difficult? Why? Criteria: You will be graded on the completion of the interview, how well it was transcribed, the analysis of the content, length of the essay, and language mechanics. Your references must also be in APA format.
  • Please include the job title and/or specific field of the interviewee.
  • You will need to turn in a transcription of the interview.
    • It may be helpful if you ask permission to record the interview so you can transcribe it afterward. Please note, you MUST GET PERMISSION before you record. Reassure them that the information collected is not for official research purposes and will not be shared with anyone outside the context of this assignment.
  • Write a 500-word essay commenting on the interview. Address the following in your essay:
    • Summarize the interview. What stood out to you as most interesting?
    • Note whether the interviewee works at the federal, state, or county level. (And in which state or county are they located?) How might their level of discretion change, if they were working in a different jurisdiction or level of government?
    • Compare and contrast the content of the interview with the required reading for Module 8. What was similar? What was different?
    • In your opinion, does the level of discretion they are allowed to use have any potential unintended consequences that may or may not be harmful?

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