Which Model Crime Control or Due Process

Herbert Packer, a Stanford University law professor, constructed two models, the crime control model and the due process model, to represent the two competing systems of values operating within criminal justice. The tension between the two accounts for the conflict and disharmony that now is observable in the criminal justice system.

The crime control model should prevail

The following assertions are the key concerns of the crime control model:

  1. The repression of crime should be the most important function of criminal justice because order is a necessary condition for a free society.

  2. Criminal justice should concentrate on vindicating victims' rights rather than on protecting defendants' rights.

  3. Police powers should be expanded to make it easier to investigate, arrest, search, seize, and convict.

  4. Legal technicalities that handcuff the police should be eliminated.

  5. The criminal justice process should operate like an assembly‐line conveyor belt, moving cases swiftly along toward their disposition.

  6. If the police make an arrest and a prosecutor files criminal charges, the accused should be presumed guilty because the fact‐finding of police and prosecutors is highly reliable.

  7. The main objective of the criminal justice process should be to discover the truth or to establish the factual guilt of the accused.

The due process model should prevail

Packer's due process model is a counterproposal to the crime control model. It consists of these arguments:

  1. The most important function of criminal justice should be to provide due process, or fundamental fairness under the law.

  2. Criminal justice should concentrate on defendants' rights, not victims' rights, because the Bill of Rights expressly provides for the protection of defendants' rights.

  3. Police powers should be limited to prevent official oppression of the individual.

  4. Constitutional rights aren't mere technicalities; criminal justice authorities should be held accountable to rules, procedures, and guidelines to ensure fairness and consistency in the justice process.

  5. The criminal justice process should look like an obstacle course, consisting of a series of impediments that take the form of procedural safeguards that serve as much to protect the factually innocent as to convict the factually guilty.

  6. The government shouldn't hold a person guilty solely on the basis of the facts; a person should be found guilty only if the government follows legal procedures in its fact‐finding.

Evaluating the crime control and due process models

To declare that one of these models is superior to the other requires one to make a value judgment. The crime control model reflects conservative values, while the due process model reflects liberal values. Political climate determines which model shapes criminal justice policy at a specific time. During the politically liberal 1960s, the principles and policies of due process predominated in criminal justice. From the mid 1970s to the early twenty‐first century, conservatism has held sway as the dominant political philosophy, and conservatives have formulated criminal justice policies in the image of the crime control model.