Crime Control vs Due Process Principles

The criminal justice system is so complex, there needs to be a method to help clearly understand the many facets involved. Stanford University School of Law Professor Herbert L. Packer (Memorial Resolution, 1972) in 1968 outlined the due process model and the crime control model as two very diverse ways to understand and process the mechanics of the criminal justice system.

The crime control method operates from the view of swift arrest and movement through the system concluding with the disposition and punishment, where the due process method operates more from the view of protecting the suspect’s rights at every step of the justice system. By definition, the due process model of the criminal justice system “assumes freedom is so important that every effort must be made to ensure that criminal justice decisions are based on reliable information; it emphasizes the adversarial process, the rights of defendants and formal decision-making procedures. (George F. Cole, 2013)

The crime control model of the criminal justice system “assumes freedom is so important that every effort must be made to repress crime; it emphasizes efficiency, speed, finality, and the capacity to apprehend, try, convict, and dispose of a high proportion of offenders. ” (George F. Cole, 2013) I would compare the crime control model and the due process model to a sprint and a marathon, respectively. In the crime control model effectiveness and expediency are key components. The goal is to “repress crime” (George F.

Cole, 2013), accomplishing this by maneuvering through prescribed steps to determine if the next step in the process is necessary. These steps are “investigation, arrest, and post-arrest investigation, preparation for trial, trial or entry of plea, conviction and disposition. (Packer, 1968) It would seem that for the crime control method to be fruitful in reducing the rate of crime there needs to be a high arrest rate and swift decisions made throughout the process with law enforcement and prosecutors working together.

One of the most important components of the crime control model are the determinations made early in the process regarding the probability of guilt or innocence of the accused. The police and prosecutors involved make these determinations based on investigation and using their collective skills and experience. By doing this, a high number of cases can be pushed through the system quickly. If an accused person is thought to probably be innocent, then they are weeded out and released. On the other hand, if an accused person is presumed to be guilty y determination of the police and prosecutors then the remainder of the process is carried out holding that presumption. This does not mean that the suspect will not be afforded the due process rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution, namely, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of guilt is a “prediction of outcome” (Packer, 1968), where the presumption of innocence is “a direction to the authorities to ignore the presumption of guilt in their treatment of the suspect” (Packer, 1968).

The due process method “stresses human rights and is devised to protect the rights of the accused by presenting formidable impediments to moving them past each step in the legal process. ” (Sung, 2006) In the due process method, a person must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; there is no presumption of guilt as in the crime control method. When and if guilt is proven, it is accomplished through the presentation of evidence by a prosecutor in a court of law, all the while being vigilant in the protection of the accused rights and adhering to the rules of the court for the admission of evidence.

Employing the due process method forces the government to prove the guilt of the accused, usually in front of a jury of their peers. The due process model protects the rights of individuals and reserves punishment for those who are found guilty beyond any doubt. This value of the due process method is stressed despite the fact that some accused who are actually guilty are set free because of insufficient or inconclusive evidence.