Chapter 3 Review questions answer guidance


1. Name and outline the key points of the three descriptive models and the three normative models outlined in this chapter.

Descriptive models:

  • The bureaucratic model describes the criminal justice system as aiming for effective and efficient crime and offender management, setting out processes to be followed by law enforcement officials.
  • The stigmatisation or status passage model describes the criminal justice system as aiming to enhance community cohesion through denunciation of crime and criminals. Such social censure is seen to re-enforce societal values.
  • The power model describes the criminal justice system as exploiting and controlling socially disadvantaged groups through their criminalisation and societal exclusion, in order to benefit the powerful in society and their interests.

There are a number of normative models of justice. Three of them are:

  • The due process model sets out rules that try to ensure that suspects and defendants are fairly treated and considers it important that innocent people are not convicted even if some guilty people go free.
  • Crime control models seek to ensure that all guilty people are convicted, even if some innocent people are also convicted and procedural safeguards are not followed to speed up justice delivery.
  • The medical model treats offenders as being unwell and is concerned with their rehabilitation as a way to support them desisting from crime.

2. Compare and contrast crime control and due process models of criminal justice and explain whether one of them is more likely to deliver just outcomes (with reasons).

For this compare and contrast exercise, you may find it useful to explore the two models’ views on how the state (e.g. the police, the courts) should exercise its power in criminal proceedings and over suspects in order to deliver justice. This will allow you to further explore the models’ differing approaches to procedural justice and the rights of offenders, and how their differences affect not only how justice is delivered, but how it is conceived in the first place by the state and its law enforcement (see the debate around efficiency versus procedural fairness).

Table 3.2 offers a useful summary of the models and can guide you in this exercise.

3. What are the main differences between justice as set out by Rawls and that set out by Sen?

Both Rawls and Sen recognise the importance of social justice. They differ, however, in other important respects. In order to identify their main differences, explore the two philosophers’ views on:

  • justice as a binary idea (are things either just or unjust, or is justice more of a continuum and depending on given circumstances and perspectives?);
  • human nature (are people selfish or altruistic?);
  • how justice can be delivered (see formal institutions and processes versus outside the system ‘impartial spectators’).

4. Why do well-being and justice matter in considering criminological theory?

‘Justice’, like ‘crime’, is socially constructed. Justice explores how well and fairly people (including organisations and nations) behave towards others, and is therefore central to how we think about many of the areas that concern criminology. It comes up in all areas of our lives, from personal relationships to sports games, and it concerns things like equality, fair access to resources, and the ability and freedom to live well. These things contribute to our well-being, and well-being and injustice may factor into incidents of criminal activity, and influence how we think about responses to crime. Yet despite its importance, the term justice is often used very loosely or imprecisely. It is an abstract, fluid concept. We know injustice when we experience it – we recognise it when we feel aggrieved – and we assume other people think about justice in the same way we do, but this is often not the case.

5. Choose one of the quotations in Controversy and debate 3.1 and discuss how and why it is important to criminological discussions.

You may like to consider the following questions, in relation to your chosen quotation:

  • What form(s) of injustice do you think the speaker is referring to/might feed into what the speaker is saying?
  • How do you think the speaker is feeling?
  • What does this tell us about the power of justice as a construct?
  • What do you think might be the implications of this sort of experience and perception of injustice?

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