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Crime Control Model a philosophy of criminal justice

Crime control model refers to a philosophy of criminal justice which focuses on decreasing crime in the community through increased police and prosecutorial abilities. Crime control places emphasis on the power of the government to protect society, with less attention on individual rights. Those who take a strong stance favoring tough ways to approach crime and criminals may be characterized as supporters of crime control. The prevention of crime should ne the most important responsibility of criminal justice and crime control model because order is a necessary condition for a free society. Crime control proponents believe that criminal justice should concentrate on protecting victim’s rights rather than on vindicating defendant’s liberties. Police authority should be increased to make it easier to search, seize, investigate, arrest and convict. Legal technicalities that restraint the police should be removed and dismissed. In the crime control model, the criminal process should operate like an assembly-line, pushing cases quickly and smoothly along toward disposition and conviction. For example, if the police make an arrest and a prosecutor files criminal charges, then the accused should be presumed guilty because the investigation of police and prosecutors is highly reliable. Overall, the main objective of the criminal justice process should be to discover the truth or to establish the factual guilt of the accused.

The assumption of absolute reliability of police fact-finding is the basis of the crime control model for law enforcement and treats arrestees as if they are already found guilty. Advocates of the crime control model feel severe punishment deters crime but if the laws go unenforced, there is a high percentage of failure for apprehending and convicting criminals. “The Crime Control Model requires that primary attention be paid to the efficiency with which the criminal process operates to screen suspects, determine guilt, and secure appropriate dispositions of persons convicted of crime” (Packer, 1964). Crime control policies involve enforcement actions made by law enforcement agencies and the administration of the criminal justice system such as correctional facilities and courts. Most crime control polices have resulted in greater investment in law enforcement. Higher rates of incarceration have also resulted in state and federal prison due to crime control policies. In order for the model to favorable function, the model must produce a high rate of apprehension and conviction and must do so in a circumstance where the incidents dealt with are very abundant and the means for dealing with them are very restricted. Quick processing is an important factor of the crime control model. “The criminal process, in this model, is seen as a screening process in which each successive state- prearrest investigation, arrest, postarrest investigation, preparation for trial, trial or entry of plea, conviction, disposition-involves a series of routinized operations whose success is gauged primarily by their tendency to pass the case along to a successful conclusion” (Packer, 1964).

Another policy of the crime control was the theory of “presumption of guilt” by Herbert Packer. Once a person has been arrested and investigated without being found to be probably innocent or once a determination has been made that there is enough evidence of guilt to permit holding a person for further action, then will be confidence in the reliability of the fact-finding activities that take place in the early stages of the criminal process. Until there has been judgment of guilt by an authorized legal competent such as police, the suspect is to be treated as if guilt is the verdict. The focus is to encourage the arrestee to enter a plea of guilty. Some other issues that may affect the crime control model occur because public policy making occurs in a political environment and it is most likely that crime control policies are politically possible.

Crime Control Model Views

The control and constraint of criminal conduct and activity is the most important factor of the crime control model. “Unless crime is controlled, the rights of law-abiding citizens will not be protected, and the security of society will be diminished” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010. P. 20). Responsibility, discipline, and self-control are key values in the view of crime control. Crime develops from these factors and in order to reach the goal of crime suppression, the criminal justice system needs to process arrestees efficiently. In order to do so, determining guilt according to evidence is law enforcement’s responsibility and fact-finding is adequately infallible to keep the innocent from being falsely punished. To achieve the goal of repressing crime, the crime control model explains “the cure is to eliminate legal loopholes by curtaining the exclusionary rule, abolishing the insanity defense, allowing for preventative detention of dangerous offenders, and increasing the certainty of punishment” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010. p. 21). Supporters feel that the courts limit law enforcement and do not provide enough protection for society and claim criminals “beat the system” and “get off easy”.

Advocates of the crime control model hold views supportive to the idea of repressing crime in many areas of discussion of law. When it comes to asset forfeiture, crime control proponents demand severe regulations and limitations on asset forfeiture because it unfavorably grants the government too much power and control over substantial property rights. The crime control view on drugs and its policies is “you do the crime, you serve the time”. The crime control model originates the mentality that drug abuse is provoked by an analysis of individual responsibility and self-control. The solution to this problem of narcotic abuse is punishment. In hopes to teach a lesson and deter others from making the same mistake, crime control supporters believe arrest and conviction will do the trick.

Indigent defenses are defense cases made by those individuals who cannot afford to pay a lawyer and therefore are entitled to a lawyer free of charge. As expenditures for defense services for the indigent have risen dramatically, crime control enthusiasts are concerned that the government is paying too much for indigent defense. The adoption of stringent indigency standards and cost recovery are ways to help improve the government’s economic inequality. Screening applicants more thoroughly can ensure that the applicant is truly needed of the service and cost recovery seeks partially indigent defendants to assist paying for their defense. “From a practical standpoint, defendants appear to be more willing to voluntarily contribute to their costs or representation before disposition than being requested to pay after entering a plea or having been found guilty” (Spangenberg et al. 1986, p. 70). To crime control defenders, the right to bail ought to be changed in the image of pretrial releases of defendants who commit new crimes while out on bail. Inequities are the link between bail and crime. Pretrial crimes and preventative detention concerning bail reform is based on the crime control model. Vindicators of the crime control model emphasize that bail should be used to protect society. They centralize on defendant’s who are probably going to commit additional crimes while out on bail and stress the need for preventative detention.”Many of those rearrested were initially arrested for a misdemeanor and later arrested for another minor offense” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010. p. 273).

Plea bargaining is the process by which a defendants pleads guilty to a criminal charge with the expectation of receiving some benefit out of it. Supporters of the crime control model believe that plea bargaining permits defendants to avoid conviction for crimes they commit. Plea bargaining often times results in lenient sentences and gives criminals the impression that courts and the law are easily manipulated. “Plea bargains send the wrong message. When criminal offenders are permitted to plead guilty to lesser charges with lesser penalties, the credibility of the entire system is corrupted” (LaWall, 2001). Advocates of the crime control model preached concern that too much judicial discretion led to unduly lenient sentencing. This moved legislatures to greatly reduce judicial sentencing discretion. Adherents of the crime control model were very concerned the indulgent discretion resulted in a lack of effective crime control. They recognize that criminal justice officials were making decisions that produce unnecessary leniency. They perceived trial judges were imposing sentences well below the statutory maximum and that parole boards were too wiling to release prisoners early.

Crime control proponents have particular views pertaining to crime control and when it comes to the death penalty, they feel the death penalty is a deterrent in that it scares people from committing murder because they know what the end result will be. They believe that the fairness of the death penalty is unimportant or unproven and for example, African-Americans are no more likely to be executed than white Americans. “The crime control model of criminal justice believes that the death penalty should be retained because it is morally acceptable to take the life of a person who has already taken another person’s life” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010. p. 402).

Finally, the crime control model on juvenile delinquency and its courts is more adult penalties. Crime is the product of moral breakdown and it does not matter what the age is. Supporters of the crime control model feel juveniles who commit crime should take full responsibility for their actions and be punished like adults. One version of more adult penalties for juvenile offenders involves increasing the numbers of transfers to adult court. “Chronic overcrowding of juvenile justice facilities is one problem often mentioned, but it is unclear how merely shuffling the overcrowding problems of juvenile facilities to already overcrowded adult courts and adult prisons will alleviate the problem” (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010. p. 519).

Crime Control Issues

For most of the last two centuries the state’s specialized institutions of criminal justice have dominated the field, and have treated crime as a problem to be governed through the policing, prosecution and punishment of individual law breakers. Today we see a development that enlists the activity of citizens, communities and companies, that works with more expansive conception of crime control, and that utilizes techniques and strategies that are quite different from those used by traditional criminal justice agencies. The crime control model insists on the value of efficiency. The investigative efficiency ideal-type is promised upon administrative efficiency. The crime control model is concerned with the fundamental goal of the criminal justice system. The criminal process is a battle between two opposing arguments whose interests are relentlessly antagonistic: the Individual (particularly the accused) and the State.

Professor Herbert Packer of Stanford University is best known for his idealistic views on the crime control model. Some refer to his analysis as the “efficiency model”. He believed that “the Crime Control Model accepts the probability of mistakes up to the level at which they interfere with the goal of repressing crime, either because too many guilty people are escaping or, more subtly, because general awareness of the unreliability of the process leads to a decrease in the deterrent efficacy of the criminal law”. His argument was that these sets of values `compete for priority' in the operation of the criminal justice process and he sought to show the way in which they were influential in shaping the system and the actions of its functionaries. Crime control model’s command for operational efficiency is the reliability (or investigative efficiency) of the police/prosecutorial screening process. The crime control model derives primarily from administrative and economic considerations.

“There is a tendency to use the term `Crime Control' in two distinct senses--sometimes to describe the goal of the criminal justice system and sometimes to summarize a complex of values which influences its operation--and confusion inevitably follows” (Duff, 1998). Herbert Packer’s models of the criminal justice process defined the theories we believe in today. The crime control model was built on community concerns for security and order. Packer’s crime control model suspects that criminal law is able to control crime without accounting for the fact, manifested by victimization studies meaning that most victims do not report crime to the police. “He [Packer] assumes that punishment is necessary to control crime whereas it may achieve little in the way of general deterrence and may make things worse by stigmatizing offenders and producing defiance” (Roach, 1999). The crime control model looks to the legislature, as its “validating authority” and allows the universal confidence that legislature place on the criminal sanction. The model commends that countless cases result in a guilty plea or prosecutorial dismiss. Because the crime control model is based on “factual guilt”, the police are given a wide range of investigative powers to arrest people during questioning and this is often the quickest way to establish factual guilt.

In conclusion, Herbert Packer’s crime control model, or “efficiency model”, is solely based on the protection of the people. In one sense of course, it does not matter what we rename this complex of values, as long as we distinguish it from the goal of Crime Control, but the term `Efficiency model' does seem to capture its essence” (Duff, 1998). Packer describes it as requiring that `primary attention be paid to the efficiency with which the criminal process operates', as demanding `efficiency of operation' and as an `administrative, almost a managerial, model' (pp. 158-9). Crime control is the overall aim of the criminal justice system and in this model, police investigations, quick prosecutions, and extreme consequences are the key.

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