The Purpose of the Criminal Justice Process. A Discussion

Essay, 2018

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Within the essay ones aims are to explore the two wider known models of justice and some constraints that may occur within these systems set in place. One will refer to the well-known Human rights act 1998 and the police and criminal evidence act 1984 in relation to the purpose of the criminal justice process (CJP) I will look to varying different sources to examine what are the historical theories and opinions of the CJP and I will compare how these sit against some cases that have been through the process to critique and gain a better understanding of the aims and purpose.

Understanding the criminal justice process (CJP) one is presented with scientific theories, the two that are the most well-known were developed by Herbert Packer in 1986. Packer presents US with two models of which he describes them as being " polarities" the "due process" and "crime control" theory. These are two conflicting value systems of which are both used in determining the outcome of an accused, while they represent the system as a whole, they are both used in conjunction to further the historical understanding of the penal process and paradigms of the two models. According to Packers crime control model the purpose of the Criminal justice system (CJP) is to suppress crime and is seen to be the most important function using the criminal sanction to cover the wide spectrum of antisocial behaviours. In opposition the due process model is described as a system aimed to deal with criminals in a fair and just manner within the guide lines of the standards set by the constitution (Raul Soares de veiga)

Packers introductory thoughts on the models are thus "The two models merely afford a convenient way to talk about the operation of a process whose day to day functioning involves a constant series of minute adjustments between the competing demands of two value systems and whose normative future likewise involves a series of resolutions of the tensions between competing claims."Packer ascribes to the theory that each of the models operate at successive stages within the □P and aims to define " where on the spectrum between the extremes represented by the two models do our present practices seem to approximately fall'

Packer likened the crime control model to that of an assembly line with in a factory the emphasis being on efficiency, by what is meant by efficiency in these terms is determined in terms of conviction rates and crime reduction statistics, unlike the due process model the rights of the accused come secondary to that of the recorded reduction in crime. The social function here being to punish in order to fulfil the criteria set out by the Crime control theory. Contrasting to this the Due process is described as an obstacle course the obstacles being the legal safeguards provided for the accused to ensure that the abuse of power does not incur and ethical standards are withheld. In efforts to amend and better protect both parties the introduction of the Police and criminal evidence act (1984) was introduced.

Packer describes to US the fundamental objectives for each model in the case of "due process" one is lead to thinking about the case of Robert Maudsely, to understand why it may be of critical importance that the model is being taken into account. Looking to Maudsely's background it is possible to presume that his deviant behaviour may have stemmed from wider issues relating to abuse in his early life, his introduction to a life style which to psychologist would suggest had an adverse effect on his behaviour although some would argue that it was in fact Maudselys "rational choice" ( peter joyce)

Others would try to rationalise and look further for an explanation thus leading to better understanding and a more fitting rehabilitation.

According to the positivist approach this is one of their objectives to rehabilitate.

Could Maudsely have been helped like Beth Thomas named" the child of rage" in HBOs documentary of Beth and her psychiatrist, this is a case in which she was treated as a child for Reactive Attachment Disorder and according to the article the therapy had now changed so much that Beth was supposedly reported to have been "permitted to share a bedroom with the therapist's own daughter." (Marilyn4ever)

It is possible then that we could see the positivist approach and due process model working in order to help the victim and giving insight how to deal with deviant behaviour of those affected by similar issues.

Psychology as a method of treating mental illness could be likened in ways to crime control model in that it uses punishment to "eliminate dangerous or disruptive behaviour"

" Punishment is an operant condition technique; it presents the unpleasant stimulus after the undesirable response occurs". ( Bernsteain, Clarke-Stewart, Penner,Roy 2012-2008)

The above could be likened to that of the crime control models " 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." (Herbert L. Packer)

The use of the crime control model within the judicial process is to convict and punish the deviant by means of imprisonment depending on the seriousness of the offence in order to rehabilitate, regulate the conduct of criminals or act as a deterrent to other deviants.

Jock young then explores criminological theories and their uses "Using criminological theories can be equally problematical. It is not uncommon for theories of crime to adopt different explanations for different types of crime and offender." (Jock Young 1981)

Criminal justice systems are known to have five components to them law enforcement, prosecution, defence attorneys, courts, and corrections. As a whole the □P aims to protect the public by preventing crime, deterring crime and by the rehabilitation of offenders. To uphold the rule of the law and respect for the law by ensuring the (correct due process) and proper treatment of suspects, arrestees, defendants and those held in custody, successfully prosecuting criminals and acquitting the innocent. It is to maintain law and order. To aid and advise the victims of crime ( Davies, Croall and Tyrer 1995)

The criminal justice systems purpose may well not be seen as to reflect the theories and regulations as it states. There is room for prejudices for corruption for human error and error in judgement, miscarriages of justice and as Young suggests " white- collar crime is theorised differently from working- class petty crime." This reflects in the wider scope of crimes against humanity and opens up into 'green criminology' one may possibly ask why then are these crimes which have victims in the billions not seen to be as criminal as those which are immediately life threatening or seen to cause great harm. Many people are thought to suffer a great deal at the hands of these governing bodies and it is possible to think that people within such status of power should be setting an example for the rest of the world to follow. It seems that humanities short sightedness can be a huge hindrance, possible corruption and refusal to change the way in which a government is run. Although the systems set in place by the CJP are in place to safe guard against these. With such placements as the police and criminal evidence act 1984 (PACE) and Human rights act 1998 set in place to further ensure the protection of the innocent and the accused some would argue there is still scope for wrongful misconduct perpetrated by individuals with the system who are bias to their own views.

For at least 50 years or so it has been accepted that offenders may not be completely responsible for their own actions but that their criminal behaviour may spring from individual characteristics or influenced by social factors. These could be mental disturbances, problems related to family or the social environment.( Davies, Croall and Tyrer 1995)

In conclusion I have discussed the purpose of the CJS and explored this through the models of criminal justice, further to this I have critiqued some aspects of the system which although ought to be carried out by the enforcing officers or crown prosecution may have not been in some cases. One looked at the possible scope for contradictions within the systems versus what the CJP sets out to achieve and what procedures have been put in place to ensure that the CJP fulfils its primary aims concerned with the public its safety, the victims and accused. Exploring the many facets of the CJP one can see that it is an on-going struggle to balance the many differing opinions, factors and guidelines set in place and as such should not be taken likely. It looks to be very complex and perplexing with a lot of research in all areas of the CJP on going and some areas in need of perhaps more theoretical attention.


Herbert L Packer . (1968). The limits of the criminal sanction. Available: id=gncxJvRGyR0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=or1epag e&q&f=false . Last accessed 1/12/2014.

Raul Soares de veiga. Andre Ventura. . (). Analysis on different models of justice systems - A new scientific perspective.. Available: sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad = rja&uact=8&ved=0CFEQFjAG&url = http %2F38%2F38&ei=QbZ3VLOJFI. Last accessed 1/12/2014.

Marilyn4ever. (October 30, 2010). Children of Rage - Beth Thomas and Mary Flora Bell. Available: Last accessed 30/11/2014.

Gaby Monet. (1990). Child of rage ( full documentary) . Available: Last accessed 28/10/2014 .

Douglas A.Bernstein, Alison Clarke-Stewart, Louis A. Penner, Edwardנ.Roy. (2012.2008). Psychological Disorders . In: John- David Hague,Tangeligue Williams, William s. Altman, Kelly Miller Psychology. 9th ed. China : Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning . 586-685. (p 654)

Davies, Croall, Tyrer. (1995). Criminal Justice chapter 1. In: Criminal justice, introduction to the criminal system in England and Wales. United States of America: Longman Group Limited . 1-33. (p4)

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The Purpose of the Criminal Justice Process. A Discussion
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