January 28

What Is Crime Control Policy?

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Crime control is a criminal justice theory that states that police and prosecutorial powers should be increased if we hope to reduce crime.

Basically, in the crime control model of criminal justice, the government should strengthen police powers, surveillance, and intervention capabilities.

Additionally, prosecutors should be empowered and equipped to prosecute criminals after they have been apprehended.

Charles Packer, a professor at Stanford Law School, developed the crime control and due process theories in 1964.

Systems of criminal justice that emphasize greater government intervention and power may have the following characteristics:

  • Standardized approach in dealing with defendants
  • Expeditious processing and handling of criminal cases though the criminal court system
  • Standard and uniform punishment for the crime committed 
  • Government policies focus arrest and punishment 
  • The objective is to deter and repress criminal conduct 

When someone is arrested in a system with high government power, they are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent.

Crime control is a model that contrasts with due process, where a major focus is on individual freedoms and rights and where government policies are aimed at educating citizens and rehabilitating criminals.

Crime Control Model Definition

According to the U.S. Justice Department article “Crime Control – A Theoretical View” (from Essays on the Theory and Practice of Criminal Justice), the crime control model is defined as follows:

As part of the crime-control model, defendants are processed expeditiously through the court system and offenders are punished uniformly, based on the severity of their crimes. 

Crime Control Model vs Due Process Model

Within criminal justice theory, the foundation of a crime control model is to increase the power of law enforcement and the government’s prosecutorial powers as a way to reduce crime in society. 

On the contrary, the “due process model “ is a criminal justice theory where it is argued that the government can reduce crime by limiting governmental powers and ensuring individual freedoms and rights are respected. 

It is also possible to see the difference between the crime control model vs due process from another angle from another perspective. 

  • The crime control model focuses on the government and its powers
  • The due process model focuses on the individual and individual liberties

Taking a look at the characteristics of both models will help to get a better look at the differences between the two.

Characteristics of the Crime Control Model

  • Repression of crime as the society needs order
  • Increased policy powers to commit investigation, arrest, seizure, search and conviction
  • Law enforcement should have to deal with less legal technicalities
  • Criminal cases must be processed quickly and in a standard and effective manner
  • The accused must be implicitly be found guilty if arrested and charged
  • A focus on vindicating victims rather than protecting defendants’ rights 
  • Criminal’s guilt is based on the factual evidence that crime was committed

Characteristics of the Due Process Model

  • Offenders and criminals should be given due process in criminal cases
  • Criminals should be dealt with fundamental fairness under the law
  • Crime must not be punished strictly on factual evidence
  • Constitutional rights need to be observed at all times
  • Focus should be placed on the defendants’ rights as opposed to the victims’ rights
  • There needs to be procedural safeguards within the criminal justice system to avoid convicting or punishing the innocent

Crime Control Model examples

It is important to look at how Crime Control Policy works in practice. 

A good example would be to look at a crime that has been committed openly. For instance, take the scenario of a bank robber entering a bank, robbing said bank and killing a few people.

The offender was unmasked and was caught on camera committing the crime. To apply the theory of crime control, when police arrest the offender, they can expect the offender to be quickly found guilty and sent to jail.

In this case, the laws wouldn’t focus on ensuring that the police thoroughly investigated the matter, obtained evidence in a lawful manner, or ensured that proper investigations are performed.

As the person was caught on camera, the identity of the person is evident, so the right thing to do is to quickly send the person to jail.

Any criminal rules of procedure, rules which prevent the admissibility of evidence, or giving the person a fair trial can be seen as an obstruction to the state’s ability to repress and deter crime and criminal conduct.

On the contrary, in the context of a due process model, despite the crime being caught on tape, the police will still need to ensure that evidence is lawfully obtained. The individual will be given the right to have a fair trial where the focus of the judge is to review all the facts as opposed to the expeditious processing of the matter.

Final thoughts

This article should now have educated you on the definition of the crime control policy and how it is used in today’s practice. 

It is also key to learn of its differences to the due process model to avoid getting the two mixed up as they are two contradicting policies.  



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