A Principled Approach
Edited by Tina Søreide and Abiola Makinwa
Chapter 7: Prosecutors discretionary authority in efficient law enforcement systems
Prosecutors cannot end corporate bribery cases with a negotiated settlement unless they have the discretionary authority to do so, and this authority varies across countries. For this chapter, we developed a measure of prosecutorial discretion that allows for cross-country comparison and used this measure to study relationships between the freedoms granted to the prosecutor and countries’ notions of criminal law efficiency, as well as their political and economic context. For alleged offenders, freedom for prosecutors to settle bribery cases does not appear to signify an easy way out of the law enforcement situation. Jurisdictions that use settlements will often experience a lower extent of corruption and higher trust in their court systems. Settlement-friendly jurisdictions are not associated with lower budget for law enforcement, even if the use of settlements tends to reduce enforcement expenses per case. While there are few clear trends with respect to governance, strict constraints on the prosecutor are associated with undemocratic (authoritarian) regimes. More democracy means more freedoms for the prosecutor, yet several of the jurisdictions most associated with criminal justice values, legitimacy and democracy have introduced new principles that constrain prosecutors’ freedoms when they offer settlements.
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