Brief Summary

Concepts of Procedural Justice

Procedural justice emphasizes fundamental fairness in the application of law through the criminal justice system.  Philosophical and social psychological models, each with a different emphasis on accuracy, balance, participation, and perception, influence what we deem "fair" in criminal justice proceedings and outcomes.

Two Models of the Criminal Process

The crime control and due process models of the criminal justice system exist at two ends of a spectrum; however, they also work simultaneously. Crime control is likened to an assembly line that often assumes guilt, while the due process model is likened to an obstacle course that emphasizes rights and an adversarial process in which both parties are on an equal footing.  Understanding these models is key to determining why certain policies and rights are in place, as well as to appreciating differing perceptions about the criminal justice system's goals.

Procedural Justice and the Constitution

The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights contain fundamental protections of the rights and liberties of all citizens, while restraining the powers of government.  Procedural guarantees protect us against violations like unjust incarceration, the presumption of guilt over innocence, and punishment for acts committed prior to the enactment of a law banning them.  The protections of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth amendments have been refined through a series of Supreme Court cases addressing the boundaries between citizen rights and government action. The Fourteenth Amendment, with its guarantees of due process and equal protection for all, is considered most important to procedural justice.  In the end, the criminal justice system implements and interprets procedural rights in an attempt to balance crime control with due process.

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