Criminal Justice: Two Models

The system of criminal justice ensures the maintenance of the established order, which is essential for any society. People approach criminal justice differently, and it is possible to consider at least two models, crime control and due process (Packer, 1964). Both of these frameworks share a core value in common as they both aim at punishing the guilty person. Justice is the highest priority for the two models, but they differ in terms of the way the major goal is achieved (De Lint, 2016). This paper includes a comparison of the two models and a brief discussion of their peculiarities.

The crime control model can be regarded as a more rigid and conservative approach to criminal justice. The major emphasis is placed on repressing the offender as it is believed to be the only effective instrument to make people abide with laws (Packer, 1964). Speed is one of the central values for the supporters of this model (Scraton & Stannard, 2016). However, in many cases, conviction and prosecution do not translate into people’s commitment to the existing values, norms, and laws. For instance, domestic violence may need a different approach as quick decisions and procedure have no or little effect on the abuser’s future behavior (Maxwell, Garner, & Fagan, 2002). This model is often criticized as it involves the conviction of quite a high rate of innocent people.

The due process model is seen as more liberal since it aims at ensuring that only guilty people are prosecuted. According to this approach, it is critical to make sure that an innocent person is not prosecuted (Packer, 1964). Although the implementation of this model requires more time compared to the crime control model, the latter is still applied in many cases. In contrast to the crime control model where legislative power is emphasized, judicial power becomes more relevant in terms of the due process model.

It is possible to note that the two paradigms are two extremes of the spectrum, but pure forms of these models have never prevailed in the US society. In the second part of the 20th century, the society longed for the use of the due process model (Squires, 2017).

This paradigm is associated with the substantial empowerment of the counsel. Nevertheless, the 9/11 attack made the American society less liberal regarding criminal justice, which led to the gradual adoption of values that are typical of the crime control model. Clearly, this approach is not applied in its pure form, but Americans tend to focus on guilty people’s prosecution with a limited set of procedures ensuring the safety of the innocent person.

According to Packer (1964), the use of both models is closely linked to two major problems, rules, and their implementation. The rules developed within the scope of the crime control framework would increase the power of authorities and minimize people’s rights. The laws enacted in terms of the due process model would focus on people’s rights, as well as formal details of cases. The implementation of the rules would be quite similar since the primary goals of the two models are the maintenance of order. Therefore, people adhering to this or that model will try to make sure the developed laws are properly followed.

In conclusion, it is possible to state that the crime control and due process models aim at ensuring the punishment of the criminal. However, the two approaches are characterized by different attitudes towards people’s rights and the power of authority. The modern American criminal justice system has become closer to the crime control framework, which provides authorities with more opportunities to prosecute people. Clearly, the due process model is also applied in many cases, which enables many people to defend their rights and be heard.


De Lint, W. (2017). Bent to good authorities? Human rights, authoritarian neoliberalism and consent policing. In L. Weber, E. Fishwick, & M. Marmo (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of criminology and human rights (pp. 320-332). New York, NY: Routledge.

Maxwell, C. D., Garner, J. H., & Fagan, J. A. (2002). The preventive effects of arrest on intimate partner violence: Research, policy and theory. Criminology and Public Policy, 2(1), 51-80.

Packer, H. (1964). Two models of the criminal process. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 113(1), 1-68. Web.

Scraton, P., & Stannard, J. (2016). ‘Crime and the criminal process’: Challenging traditions, breaking boundaries. In K. Gledhil & B. Livings (Eds.), The teaching of criminal law: The pedagogical imperatives (pp. 127-138). New York, NY: Routledge.

Squires, P. (2017). Community safety and crime prevention: A critical reassessment. In N. Tilley & A. Sidebottom (Eds.), Handbook of crime prevention and community safety (pp. 32-54). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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