conservative decisions | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Conservative decisions are court decisions that align with the crime control model as opposed to the due process model.

Conservative decisions in the criminal justice system are those that support the traditional view of criminal justice, which emphasizes punishment and control of criminal behavior over individual rights and liberties. These decisions align with the crime control model rather than the due process model.

The crime control model prioritizes the efficient and rapid processing of criminal cases to ensure that justice is swiftly and harshly served to deter future criminal behavior. It favors the use of strong punitive measures, such as mandatory minimum sentences and the death penalty, as a way to control crime.

Conservative judges tend to favor these types of measures, believing that they are necessary to maintain law and order and to protect the public. They may also be more likely to uphold the decisions of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other officials in the criminal justice system.

However, many people criticize conservative decisions as being overly harsh and punitive, particularly towards marginalized communities and people of color. Critics argue that this approach often leads to the overcriminalization of minor offenses and contributes to mass incarceration and other injustices in the criminal justice system.

Some conservative decisions have been particularly controversial, such as the Supreme Court’s decision in McCleskey v. Kemp (1987), which upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty despite evidence of racial bias in its application. Other conservative decisions have included expanding police powers to conduct searches and seizures, limiting the ability of defendants to challenge the constitutionality of their convictions, and restricting access to legal representation for indigent defendants.

Despite these criticisms, conservative decisions continue to play a significant role in shaping the criminal justice system in the United States. They reflect a longstanding tension between the need to maintain public safety and the desire to protect individual rights and liberties. As such, the ongoing debate over the appropriate balance between these two goals is likely to continue in the years to come.

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Last Modified: 07/06/2021

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