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Street-Level Justice: Situational Determinants of Police Arrest Decisions
Douglas A. Smith and Christy A. Visher
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Dec., 1981), pp. 167-177
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800422
Page Count: 11
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In this paper we examine variations in police arrest practices. Data collected in 1977 from police encounters with suspects indicate that arrest practices reflect legal and extra-legal factors. The decision to take a suspect into custody is influenced by such features of the situation as the dispositional preferences of victims, the race and demeanor of the suspect, and the presence of bystanders. Furthermore, the seriousness of the offense increases the chances of arrest. Contrary to much existing literature, males and females are equally likely to be arrested. The relevance of these findings to theoretical models of police behavior is discussed and the implications of our analysis for studies of criminal processing in general are considered.
Social Problems © 1981 Oxford University Press