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Politics, Criminal Prosecution, and the Rationalization of Justice: Italy and the United States

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 14 Issue: 1-2 Dated: (Spring-Winter 1990) Pages: 15-24
Date Published
10 pages
Information gathered from four months of interviews with Italian criminal justice officials is used to compare the relationship between politics and criminal prosecution in Italy and the United States.
The analysis focuses on how the two legal systems are rationalized, in terms of how the legal system is deliberately tailored to achieve agreed upon values and how it is operated according to established principles. The comparison shows that the Italian system is based on formal rationality in which legal decisionmaking systems are operated according to strictly legal principles. Substantive rationality refers to systems guided by other principles; in the American case, these principles include expediency and political control. Cultural influences in Italy, including a societal fear of concentrated power and the pursuit of formal rationality, have impeded their willingness to import strategies for discretionary prosecution as accepted in the United States. 16 notes and 27 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1990