Harbet Packer and His Two Models of the Criminal Justice System

Paper Type:  Course work
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  869 Words
Date:  2021-03-31

In the first chapter of his book The Limits of the Criminal Sanction, Harbet Packer constructed and explains two different models in the criminal justice system. These two models are the crime control model and the due process model. The two models represent competing systems of values in a criminal justice system (Packer, 1968). The crime control model represents the criminal activity while the due process model protects an individuals rights. The primary purpose or focus of crime control is to safeguard the community as a while from crime threat while the main objective of the due process is to protect an individual from mistreatment in the processes of criminal justice.

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Packer's (1968) concepts are still viable and applicable in the contemporary criminal cases. The crime control model says that the criminal justice systems most essential function should be to repress crime to bring order into the society. This model reasons that a free society can be achieved if the criminal justice system tool active measures to eliminate crime (Packer, 1968). According to this model, criminal justice should concentrate on highlighting and protecting victims rights rather than defendants rights (Packer, 1968). The model also goes ahead to say that legal technicalities and bureaucratic police procedures should be eliminated to give the police more powers to conduct investigations easily as well as search, arrest, and convict criminals (Packer, 1968). The crime control model asserts that the criminal justice process should mainly focus on establishing the truth and facts about the guilt of the accused. This is because of the police conducted investigations before the arrest and the prosecutor conducted the investigation before prosecution the accused must be guilty. The model points out that the fact-finding process of the police and prosecutor should be highly reliable (Packer, 1968). The model, therefore, concludes that the criminal justice system should operate in a forward-moving process whereby cases move smoothly from one office to the next towards disposition (Packer, 1968).

The due process model, on the other hand, presents arguments that are completely opposite of what the crime control model does. The due process model asserts that an essential function of the criminal should be to protect the rights of all individuals by providing due process and fairness during the trial (Packer, 1968). As such, the criminal justice system should concentrate on the protection of defendants rights rather than victims rights. The concept also argues that the police should have limited and controlled powers to ensure that they do not oppress individuals especially the defendants during the criminal justice processes (Packer, 1968). According to the due process model, the constitutional should be clear on the rights of persons. These will act as control mechanisms which the criminal justice authorities will have to respect at all times and through which their accountability will be measured and questioned. The criminal proceedings should not be smooth flowing but rather resemble an obstacle course made up of series of procedures and impediments. The aim of such barriers and systems is to protect the rights of all individuals and ensure that the innocent have their rights respected while the guilty are convicted (Packer, 1968). The model concludes by pointing out that a persons sense of guilt should not be based only on the facts but rather on fair and due-process legal procedural fact-finding (Packer, 1968).

The political values and climate of a nation determine the model that the criminal justice adheres to. For instance, in the application of crime control model, when the police suspects or get a report that a person is suspect to be dealing with illegal drugs, they will immediately arrest that person. According to crime control, the police will have the power to search the persons property even without proper documentation, arrest him and convict him. According to this model, the police will do so because the primary focus of the justice system should be to repress crime, and protect the society (Packer, 1968). The rights of the defendant will not be treated as significant but rather the police will be concerned with the rights of the victims who may be affected by the same of drugs. According to crime control model, the criminal justice system should only focus on finding facts about the guilt of the accused rather than his innocence or protecting his rights.

Following the due process model, if the police suspect that a person might be dealing with drugs, they will protect those individual rights even during the investigation and other criminal justice procedures. For instance, the person has the right to fair treatment and thus the police cannot search his house without a search warrant. Also, the defendant will not be arrested on mere suspicion, but only when the police have full evidence. The criminal justice system will adhere to the constitutional and fundamental rights of the defendants as provided in the bill of rights. The police power is also limited because any violation of individual rights and due process will lead to them being held accountable. Also, the government will follow the legal procedure to find facts on the factual innocence of factual guilt of the accused/defendant before issuing a punishment (Packer, 1968).


Packer, H. L., (1968). The limits of the criminal sanction (2nd ed). Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

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Harbet Packer and His Two Models of the Criminal Justice System. (2021, Mar 31). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/harbet-packer-and-his-two-models-of-the-criminal-justice-system

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