While no criminal justice system is perfect, the goal is to create a model that is fair and just to all people. The US justice system, depending on the point of view, operates either from the due process or crime control models. In order to understand whether it is the former or the latter model that is the best practice for American citizens, both must be discussed in detail. According to Hayes and Lynn, the two models were introduced by Packer in 1964 (2020). The due process model focuses on protecting the Constitutional rights of all parties involved, including the defendant. By contrast, the crime control model puts a higher emphasis on law enforcement and court processes (Hayes & Lynn, 2020). It can be argued that both models used together are the best way of conducting justice. However, since this might bring contradictions and require overruling by one or the other model, it is necessary to be able to make the decision of which one to apply. Therefore, since the main goal of a criminal justice system must be justness and fairness, the due process model must be prioritized during these decisions.
The Due Process Model
The due process model is rooted in respect of individual rights and the protection of the innocent. Thus, at its core, it strives to limit the power that the government has over the court decision and attempts to prevent all wrongful convictions. According to national statistics, over 2500 people in the US have been exonerated of their crimes in the past 30 years (“Wrongful Convictions,” 2019). Therefore, it is clear that these measures for error detection are required and necessary. By using due process, the law enforcers rely on facts and evidence for the convictions, which is necessary to protect the innocent from being wrongly accused.
The Crime Control Model
The crime control model, on the other hand, focuses primarily on punishing criminals rather than on protecting individuals. In this case, the arrested individuals are assumed to be guilty since the priority lies in reducing criminal activity. The US is one of the leading countries by the number of people incarcerated, with 2.1 million people currently serving time in prisons around the country (Gramlich, 2021). One of the reasons behind such a high number is the fact that the crime control model strives to deal with the cases as quickly as possible, arresting and incarcerating people with little process.
There will always be mistakes that are made during the criminal justice process, and there will most certainly always be a crime. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that choosing to prosecute people with little consideration for their rights does not break the cycle but only encourages it to continue. If the people do not feel safe and protected in their own country, they will not have respect for its laws and regulations. Hence the crime will only continue. On the other hand, a system that can be trusted to protect each individual instead of being quick to put the blame on the first convenient suspect is one that would decrease crime in the long run.
In conclusion, although crime control might seem like a faster and more effective solution at first glance, it is vital to understand the need for fairness. In the US, biases, and preconceptions still exist today, as can be seen from the many cases that led to the increase in social movements such as Black Lives Matter. Therefore, first and foremost, all law-enforcement should be rooted in protecting the citizens, who are all equal by the Constitution, rather than in enforcing arrests and imprisonments. Nevertheless, it might be useful to consider a new system to be put in place that would combine the advantages of both models and lead to a decrease in disadvantages.
Gramlich, John. America’s Incarceration Rate Falls to Lowest Level since 1995. Pew research Center, 2021, Web.
Hayes, Abigail and Lynn, Tamara. “Due Process vs Crime Control Models of Justice”. 2020 SACAD Entrants.
Wrongful Convictions. Equal Justice Initiative, 2019, Web.