Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Prosecutorial Decision-Making and Discretion in America’s Criminal Justice System Public Deposited

  • This research examines the decision-making processes of prosecutors and how they exercise discretion within the United States criminal justice system. Current literature has documented that government actors exercise an extraordinary amount of discretionary power that goes unchecked. While there is scholarship on the legal standards for prosecutors, there is virtually no qualitative research using intensive interviews which provide rich information about prosecutorial decision-making processes. I conducted interviews with prosecutors working in the state of Colorado and discovered that the most important factors that influenced decision-making processes included the seriousness of the offense, victim and defendant trauma, community safety and a victim’s desires. Each of these factors along with a prosecutor’s conception of justice contributed to how each prosecutor exercised their discretion regardless of which department they worked in. These findings are significant in understanding how cases progress through the American criminal justice system and may be used to better the development of legal standards.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-03-31
Academic Affiliation
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-04-12
Resource Type
Rights Statement


In Collection: