Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice

Categories: Criminal Justice

Explain the "crime control" and "due process" models of justice. Select one and discuss the strengths and limitations of this model.

There are numerous attempts at explaining and structuring the criminal justice system, more specifically the prosecution process and punishment. The two most well-known models will be discussed in this essay: the "due process" and "crime control" models as proposed by the American scholar Packer (1969). It is important to note that these models are mainly used as explanatory tools, as they do not actually reflect the reality of the criminal justice system.

(Hucklesby, 2013)

The two models have two completely opposing viewpoints: the "due process" model holds a more liberal view of the prosecution, and is a more humanist approach in the criminal justice system; while the "crime control" model comes from a more conservative side of the spectrum, an approach that focuses more on the rapidness of closing a case rather than proving if someone is innocent or guilty. These both demonstrate how the system serves and protects not only the rights of someone committing an offence but also how the needs of our society are met (e.

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g. protecting the public from criminals). (Joyce, 2013). The models were mainly developed in the context of the US legal system where a prevalent "crime control" model operates; regardless, these models can be applied to the UK legal system as well. (Garside, 2008)
The "crime control" model in its basic parts demonstrates an idea to protect our society from potential offenders and therefore works with a "guilty until proven innocent" mentality.

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In the context of our criminal justice system, this means that the community is being controlled and public safety is ensured. Moreover, this model favours punishment and stands for removing bureaucracy and cases moving forward quicker than regular.

In more detail, the "due process" model operates on an "innocent until proven guilty" basis; a principle in which everyone has the right to stand a fair trial with the main purpose to reduce the number of people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Furthermore, it enforces rehabilitation and stresses the importance of appeals and legal support within the system (Robinson & Cussen, 2017). When looking from a more sociological point of view this approach is mainly favoured by liberalists, even more Marxists as it provides a framework for justice that benefits the working-class and puts them in an equal position to the bourgeoise; providing them with the fairness and support they need in order to prove they are not guilty which is a massive strength of this model. In terms of the distribution of power within criminal justice, the "due process" model would propose a dominant system that operates on full transparency and accountability of the executive forces, such as the police service; while also restricting their use of "aggressive" power (e.g. the use of teargas when it is not needed, firearms at peaceful protests, etc.). This is due to the public slowly losing trust in the police forces as they have become more unreliable and do not operate on full transparency (Dhami (2006) in Brooks-Gordon (2012)). For instance, there have been multiple cases in which the police withheld evidence or has behaved in an unprofessional manner such as in the cases of Stephen Lawrence, the Guildford Four and many more. This, in turn, would then suggest that a "due process" model would be the most effective one in our criminal justice system as it is looking to improve the quality of fair treatment rather than increase the number of arrests or even trials in the worst cases.

Furthermore, it asks the prosecution services to establish guilt and provide steady evidence to guarantee that a defendant is being rightfully convicted of a crime, and not by mistake. In the aforementioned Guildford Four case, it was found that the police had indeed insufficient evidence against the defendants, which means that after 14 years of imprisonment they were released on this basis. Concerns were raised if the system might be too harsh, but these miscarriages of justice happen more frequently in the United States of America rather than the United Kingdom. A reason for this could be that the Crown Prosecution Service is trying to ensure that not only legal but also ethical guidelines are being followed, which is not a big worry in America where in some states like Florida the death penalty is still an option to give to a defendant. Packer (1964) therefore suggests that a "due process" model is more effective in ensuring that actual justice is served rather than imprisoning people for the sole sake of it. However, it can be argued that if this model was dominant in our criminal justice system, we would have more offenders walk free, which according to more conservative theorists, poses a big threat to the safety of our society and is a massive limitation to this model. This is especially true for crimes that are already not being dealt with properly or where sufficient evidence cannot be provided immediately, like in sexual assault cases or hate crime. For instance, in late May of 2018 more than 50 cases involving rape (allegations) have been dropped within six weeks due to insufficient evidence already. This means that from a conservative perspective we are not properly protected and are at risk of being victims.

A more general analysis is that both of Packer's models mainly focus on the defendant and the wider impact on society – but completely disregards the incredible impact crime can have on its victims. However, it must be noted that his models were established in the 60s (Campbell 1998); and society has moved on with the emergence of even more models of justice systems that hold more relevance to this day and age such as restorative and procedural models which have obviously built upon his principles – so there is no doubt that both models have contributed to our understanding of the criminal justice system.

The "due process" model touches upon the importance of rehabilitation rather than punishment which is a more humanist approach towards imprisonment and dealing with offenders.

Reference list

  1. Hucklesby, A., Wahidin, A., (eds.) (2013). Criminal Justice. 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Robinson, A., Cussen, T., (2017). The Criminology & Criminal Justice Companion. London: Palgrave.
    Pallister, D. (1999) An Injustice that still reverberates. The Guardian [online], 19th October 1999
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  3. Revesz, R. (2017) Police failing to disclose crucial evidence about defendants, report finds. The Independent [online], 18th July 2017
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  4. Brooks-Gordon, B., Freeman, M. (eds.) (2006) Law and Psychology: Current Legal Issues Volume 9. [online] Oxford: Oxford University Press – retrieved 1 Nov. 2019, from
  5. Joyce, P. (2013). Criminal Justice. An Introduction. 2nd edition. Abingdon: Routledge.
    UK Parliament (2015) Magna Carta [online]
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  6. Garside, R. (2008) The Purpose of the Criminal Justice System. Crime and Justice. [online]
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  7. Lutz, B. J., Ulmschneider, G. W., Lutz, J. M. (2010) The trial of the Guildford Four: Government error or government prosecution. Terrorism and Political Violence. Pg. 113-130.
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    [accessed: 1.11.2019]
  8. Crown Prosecution Service (2018) Abuse of process. [online]
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    [accessed: 1.11.2019]
  9. Evans, M. (2018) Almost 50 court cases dropped in six weeks because of issues with disclosure, CPS reveals. The Telegraph [online], 5th June 2018
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    [accessed: 1.11.2019]
  10. Campbell, L., Redmayne, M. (2019) The Criminal Process. 5th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [online]
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  11. Changing Minds (2002) Four Types of Justice. [online]
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    [accessed: 1.11.2019]
Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice essay
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