Criminal Justice Theory: An Introduction

By Roger Hopkins Burke | Go to book overview

8 Conclusions
The future of criminal justice

It has been the central aim of this book to explain from different theoretical perspectives why it is that the various components of the ‘criminal justice system’, or ‘process’, function in the way that they do and in whose interest it operates. Four different and invariably competing, but sometimes complementary, models of criminal justice development have been outlined in order to achieve that aim.

The first, the orthodox social progress model, proposes that the development of modern societies, their laws and criminal justice systems, is the product of incremental enlightenment, benevolence and a consensual society, where the great majority of the population share the same core values, and are fairly uncritically accepting of an increasingly progressive humanitarian response to crime and disorder which is widely perceived to be in the interests of everyone. A revisionist variant of the model tells a less idealist account where developments occur as functional solutions to immediate social changes and problems as they arise, but this, nevertheless, remains a liberal model where it is still assumed that things can be improved if we learn the appropriate lessons from history and research.

The second, the radical conflict model, challenges the notion of consensus and recognises, in contrast, a society characterised by conflict where the developing criminal justice system has been used throughout the modern era to successfully support the needs of capitalism by allowing for the continued repression of uncooperative members of the working class and increasingly other outsider groups while continuing to give the impression that the changes introduced have been fair, humane and progressive. A revisionist variant of this model nevertheless recognises that while the reformers may well have acted out of political selfinterest they might have had benevolent motives as well.

The third, the carceral surveillance society model, considers that both the social progress and radical conflict models are too simplistic. While the carceral surveillance approach is complementary to the radical conflict model, it is recognised that power is both diffuse and pervasive in society. Agents and experts at all levels of the social world have access to, and control of, significant elements of power, and although this is invariably exercised in the overall interests of the capitalist class in the final analysis, those involved in its application at a local, micro and mezzo level are not always aware of their contribution to the ‘grand design’. Indeed, often, as a result of their discretion, independence and relative autonomy

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Criminal Justice Theory: An Introduction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Criminal Justice Theory i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • 1- Introduction - Modernity and Criminal Justice 1
  • 2- Explaining Crime and Criminal Behaviour 29
  • 3- The Philosophy of Law and Legal Ethics 58
  • 4- Policing Modern Society 84
  • 5- The Legal Process in Modern Society 111
  • 6- Punishment in Modern Society 144
  • 7- Youth Justice in Modern Society 172
  • 8- Conclusions - The Future of Criminal Justice 194
  • Notes 215
  • References 222
  • Author Index 249
  • Subject Index 256
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