Discretionary Power

1337 Words6 Pages
Nancy Scheper-Hughes Death Without Weeping, she states that “even the most ‘advanced’ state can resort to threats of violence or to open violence against ‘disorderly’ citizens” (Fassin 2013). This quote suggests that the state uses its discretionary power to maintain the order of society. This discretionary power applies to the police as well. Baldwin’s “A Report from Occupied Territory” provides examples of a state using violence against citizens that society perceives to be disorderly. Baldwin criticizes this use of violence. This criticism provides key claims, that along with other articles provide insight in the relationships between law, coercive force, and discretion. Using Baldwin’s “A Report from Occupied Territory”, as well as a few…show more content…
As mentioned above, the Rule of Law grants the police the legitimacy to use coercive force. Klockars would argue that this is a form of legal legitimacy, and it is important not to equate legal legitimacy to moral legitimacy (Klockars 1985). Although the police may claim to have legal legitimacy for beating up the salesman, but they certainly did not have the moral legitimacy to act in such a brutal manner. Legal legitimacy becomes gray over the manner of violence. How much violence is legally acceptable? As mentioned earlier, the law has granted a flexible answer to that question. The wider expansion of the discretion of violent measures to coercive force, the more blurred the lines become between moral and legal legitimacy. Baldwin states that “the law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer” (Baldwin 1966). This statement emphasizes the relationship between law and violence. To Baldwin, the law is designed to save him from violent actions has disappeared, and it has been replaced by one that inflicts harm. For Baldwin, the law is no longer legitimate because it does not function in the manner in which the law is intended to act. The violent maintenance of order draws into question the legitimacy of law. Therefore, the relationship between law, legitimacy, and violence is quite complicated. The law legitimizes the police use of discretionary coercive force, and it provides a wide application of this power. This in turn can cause some people to question the legal and moral legitimacy when the use of coercive force becomes too
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