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Crime Control Model: Definition & Examples

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Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

The crime control model emphasizes regulation of criminal conduct and justice by implicating strict and swift punishment for crimes. Learn the definition of the crime control model and the due process model and their examples. Updated: 10/09/2021

Definition of Crime Control Model

Chinese philosophy suggests that opposite forces are complementary, just like the Chinese yin and yang. There exists a similar type of constant tension in the U.S. criminal justice system between the crime control model and the due process model. Whether these competing models are complementary is subject to debate.

In 1964, the two models emerged in an article written by Herbert Packer, a famous Stanford Law School professor. Professor Packer proposed that there are two fundamental criminal justice models: the crime control model and the due process model.

The crime control model is considered to be a conservative approach to crime that focuses on protecting society from criminals by regulating criminal conduct and justice. Moreover, this model stresses strict and swift punishment for crimes; in return, this strict adherence benefits society by striking fear in criminals because they will be harshly punished. The crime control model also seeks to move criminal cases through the criminal system as quickly as possible. The goal of the model is to get the cases through the systems swiftly, even if that means expanding the powers of the courts. In fact, this model supports greater powers for prosecutors and the courts that are handling the cases.

In contrast, the due process model is considered to be a liberal approach to criminal justice that favors criminal rights. This model functions under the tenet that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The model also favors strategies that might rehabilitate offenders rather than simply punish them. The goal for this model is to get offenders functioning back into society and out of prison, if possible. It is therefore in direct contrast to the crime control model. Opponents to this model often argue that the due process model sets too many obstacles in the way of serving justice and punishing serious criminals.

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Examples of the Crime Control Model

When put into action, the crime control model leads to the police having increased powers, while the court system is built to move offenders through swiftly. Police might exercise these expanded powers by handing out more search warrants or increasing their rounds of interrogations when dealing with suspects. Police officers also might be given the broad power to use more aggressive crime control strategies, such as profiling, conducting undercover sting operations, wiretapping and targeting high crime locations.

Additionally, crime control model proponents advocate for a court system that manages cases in an assembly line fashion. This means that the cases should move forward quickly and be dealt with in a uniform fashion. Moreover, appeals should be minimized, and lengthy trials should not bog down the court system.

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