Crime Control vs. Due Process


Crime control and due process are two crime models that for a long time now appear to have been antagonising one another (Roach 1999). The model of due process is guided by the rule that a person may not have their liberty, life and property deprived in the absence of suitable lawful safeguards and practices (Newburn 2007). The law requires that an individual that gets charged with a certain form of crime gets criminal justice protection in accordance with the model of the due process.

The model of crime control hinges upon a supposition of complete dependability on the fact findings by the police, in addition to treating the arrested suspect just like they were in fact already guilty of the crime they have been accused of committing (Bohm & Haley 2005). In light of this therefore, the intention of this paper is to draw a contrast between the two criminal justice system models.

A comparative assessment of Crime control vs. Due process

The two models, as developed by Herbert Packer, were meant to facilitate a better comprehension of the process of criminal justice. Thanks to the two models, we are thus in a position to comprehend how such various agencies as courts and the police function, in addition to understanding the way in which various decisions are arrived at from the context of individuals’ criminal behavior. By laying the spotlight on the model of crime control first, what becomes evident is that there is a need to have the process of criminal justice established in such a manner as to ensure that those persons found guilty essentially get convicted.

On the other hand, the values of the due process may only get sustained to the extent that crime control becomes a ‘high purpose’ undertaking (Bohm & Haley 2005), in addition to the realisation that the police force does indeed have a legitimate role to play within the criminal justice system. The values of crime control are mainly concerned with the conviction of individuals that have been found guilty, so much so that it bears the risk of having several innocent victims convicted anyway, in addition to absorbing suspects’ liberty infringements costs in a bid to attain its goals.

On the other hand, the values of due process gives priority to the act of acquitting innocent victims of the criminal justice system, to the extent of even having some of the guilty individuals acquitted on occasions (Laycock 2008). This is in addition to the high priority that this model has placed on civil liberties protection.

Whereas the due process appears to uphold a presupposition of innocence, crime control on the other hand seeks to imply a verdict of guilty even before conviction. The due process allows the suspects to enjoy a fair trial, in addition to assuming that in the eyes of the law, all are equal. Furthermore, the due process may be seen to uphold the right of a defendant (Laycock 2008). On the other hand, crime control is not only characterised by minimal legal controls, but the design of this system is such that it assists the police to make arrests, possibly even innocent suspects. In this case, this model chiefly operates on a principle of fighting crime.

In an attempt to draw parallels between, on the one hand, the model of crime control and on the other hand, the due process model, it is worth noting that the advocates of both of these two models ‘embrace constitutional values’ (Roach 1999). These two models once in a while appear to integrate at work, albeit remotely, at least from the context of our antagonistic system. For example, such authorities as prosecutors and the police have no authority to take action against an individual until such a time as when such individuals appear to have infringed the law.

The criminal justice theory of crime control seeks to both reduce and prevent crime, and this is the principal objective of this theory. Should such an aim be lacking, there would be a resultant decline with respect to the justice system and criminal law regarded by the public. As such, this theory places a greater level of emphasis on criminal investigation facilitation, pursuing of crime offenders and the interrogation of crime suspects (Newburn 2007).

As a result, the right of a suspect takes a back seat, with a presumption that ritual protection may only seek to impede the work of the police. As such, the police get entrusted to a great deal, in addition to such other authorities and public prosecutors within the realm of crime investigation and justice system management. While alive to a realization that mistakes do indeed occur, crime control theory often assumes that it is ‘the acceptable collateral damage of the bigger task of controlling crime’ (Newburn 2007).

The “conveyor belt” analogy is the one often utilised while describing the model of crime control, in the sense that the “alleged criminal” is made to move through the criminal justice system. Of course, the consideration here is that in the justice system, al are guilty, until there is valid and enough evidence to prove them innocent (Newburn 2007). In addition, crime control theory seems to provide a limit to the numbers of appeals and plea-bargaining that one may seek for. On the other hand, an “obstacle course” is the term used in reference to the due process. Due process values hinges on crime repression, in addition to not presuming that the police force shall often be truthful in their supposed “fact finding” (Newburn 2007). One thing worth appreciating though is that unlike crime control, due process theory is explicitly realistic, as it makes an allowance for error and omission. What this means therefore is that the model only gets to assume that a victim is guilty at such a time as when substantial evidence to the case has been provided. In terms of case finality, the model of due process appears quite low, with the implication that there exists a possibility for appeal (Bohm & Haley 2005), so that at no time would an individual who would otherwise innocent, get prosecuted wrongly. As such, the model calls for the elimination as well as prevention of possible errors.


In order to reach a compromise between on the one hand, the crime control theory, and on the other hand, the due process, it is important here to note the main aims of each of the two models, as this wish helps shed light on the loopholes that should be addressed. For one, crime control is more concerned with the containment of crime, probably the reason why the police force and the prosecution are accorded more authority to prosecute crime suspects. A recommendation would be that these powers be reasonable enough to not lead to the conviction of an innocent suspect, yet be stringent enough to nab the actual crime suspects. On the other hand, the due process should not appear to assume all persons as being innocent, even in a case where there is enough evidence to suggest otherwise.


As a criminal justice theory, crime control lays more emphasis on a reduction of crime levels within the society by way of enhancing the prosecutorial and police powers. On the other hand, due process is concerned more with the rights and liberties of an individual, besides laying more emphasis on reducing the government powers. Crime control appears to prioritize government’s power with regard to offering protection to the members of the society, while at the same time according to individuals a reduced liberty (Newburn 2007).

Individuals that tend to support a tough move toward both crime and those committing it could be regarded as crime control proponents. On the other hand, those in favor of attempts to have the harassment and intrusion powers of the government towards crime suspects could be seen as proponents of the due process. Nevertheless, there is a need that a compromise is reached between the two models, so that innocent victims are not wrongly charged (Roach 1999).

On the other hand, it is important that the crime control system has enough authority to prosecute criminals. Given the controversy that surrounds both the due process and crime control models of the criminal justice system, this writer, while acknowledging the fact that our prosecution system and police force requires an extra authorities to control the criminal justice system, nevertheless wishes to side with the due process, in which all are equal before the law, and in which the innocently charged individuals have a higher chance of being declared innocent.

Work cited

Bohm, Robert, & Haley, Keith. Introduction to Criminal Justice (5th Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005

Levinson, David. Encyclopaedia of crime and punishment: Volumes I-IV. London: Sage, 2002.

Laycock, Gloria. “Policing”. A journal of policy and practice. 2.2 (2008): 149-153. Newburn, Tim. Criminology. Willan Publishing, 2007

Roach, Kent. Due process and victim’s rights: the new law and politics of criminal justice. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

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