In criminal justice, decision making becomes is an integral part of any process that involves a choice whereby a person forms a conclusion about a situation. This represents a course of behavior about what must or what must not be done. A decision-making is the point at which plans, policies and objectives are translated into concrete actions. The purpose of decision making is to direct human behavior towards a future goal. In criminal justice, that team and group decision making involves co-acting members with specialized knowledge, interacting to arrive at some valued decisions or outcomes.
Teams have accountable membership, often work in unpredictable ambiguous environments, and process information (or enact various functions) for variable lengths of time. Team decision making is further complicated when it is supported by technology, such as decision support systems that are comprised of decision aids, informational data bases, computers, intercoms, telephones, video, and so forth. Decision making, as a term, no longer adequately fits the expanded activities that the team undertakes to solve a problem or reach an intended goal.
Intellectual teamwork is possibly a better term to describe team decision making in technologically supported environments. Within this process, ethics becomes a crucial part guarding and controlling decision-making process (Gelsthorpe, Padfield 2003). Ethics is as a set of moral principles that govern the action of an individual or group. Business ethics are concerned with truth and justice and include aspects which society expects. Two themes which emerged in literature are the role of the victim in the criminal justice system and the use of the criminal law as a resource (Bessette 1997).
Decision analysis is a set of models and methods for helping people deal with difficult and stressful decisions. The operating assumption of decision analysts is that a decision maker wishes to select the action that has the highest expected utility. Decision analytic methods include both tools for structuring decisions (e. g. , decision trees) and tools for eliciting beliefs (probabilities) and values (utilities) The contingent nature of decision behavior has important implications for decision analysis.
For example, the variance in preferences across tasks that are seemingly similar calls into question the validity of the judgmental inputs needed to operationalize decision analysis. Critics admit two kinds of biases which affect the decision making of groups. Two broad categories are process “problems” and content “problems. ” These problems occur as a function of errors, such as slips and mistakes, and cognitive biases. In some cases, the point of commission of an error or bias may be indefinable for teamwork.
When an individual commits an error or succumbs to a bias, it is usually definable at the moment of behavioral commission, because it is impossible to see “inside a person’s head” (Gelsthorpe, Padfield 2003). When the team commits an error or succumbs to a bias, it is difficult to define the point of commission, because teams can explicitly self-correct behaviors before the end of a team work sequence of behaviors and verbal reasoning (Stinchcomb, 2006). The team decision-making process may itself serve as a source of error or bias.
One categorization of process includes the following four dimensions: rational, consensual, empirical, and political. Rational decision processes are goal centered, logical, and efficient and include many of the processes characterized by multi-attribute utility. Unfortunately, rational decision processes rely on the assumption that knowledge of all attributes and consequences of the problem are definable by the team members or can be derived, and that imagination can be used to define one’s knowledge of “future events,” making them predictable.
Consensual processes demand participation and general agreement on an outcome by all team members. They highlight a strong bias to democratic processes. Support of this process has been the focus of much of the development of technological support for group decision making in the business community. Empirical processes are based on the use of information or evidence and demand accountability or credibility.
These processes might be subsumed under rational processes; one can be rational without being empirical, but one cannot be empirical without being rational. Political decision processes rely heavily on adaptability and external legitimacy. For example, inappropriate lines of authority (e. g. , by rank and not by skill) could lead to errors in team decision making as well as a failure to coordinate uniquely held expert information. It was found that cultural, structural, and interaction effect all influence police decision making (Gelsthorpe, Padfield 2003).