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Stephen Goldsmith, victim of bad law: Mandating arrests robs cops of discretion

New York Daily News

Law that tries to exclude human judgment of right and wrong always veers towards unintended places - as with the Rockefeller drug laws, or "three strikes" laws that send petty criminals to jail for life. In his book "Street Level Bureaucracy," Michael Lipsky describes how police cannot "possibly make arrests for all the infractions they observe" and analyzes the moral complexity of daily choices by public officials who are "constantly confronted with the apparent unfairness of treating people alike." Making fair public judgments, he demonstrates, always requires context.