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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses empirical approaches to criminal procedure, focusing on three broad and recurring themes that reflect the complex nature of the criminal justice system as a social institution: legal culture, discretion, and policy. It first considers criminal justice in the context of its sociopolitical culture, taking into account the place of legal and occupational cultures and the ways that they influence criminal justice law and practice. It also looks at culture as rhetoric before reviewing studies that explore some routine criminal justice practices, particularly how criminal justice institutions, such as the police and the prosecution, exercise discretion, and factors that affect a jury’s decision-making. Finally, it examines the relationship between law and policy, and more specifically how public policies (such as austerity) impact criminal justice practices, and how empirical research on law has contributed to evidence-based policy.

Keywords: criminal procedure, criminal justice, legal culture, discretion, policy, sociopolitical culture, rhetoric, police, prosecution, jury

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