justice model | Definition

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

The Justice Model of imprisonment holds that criminals should face punishment fitting their crimes instead of focusing on their rehabilitation or reintegration.

The Justice Model follows a specific philosophy. It believes that individuals who commit crimes must be held accountable for their actions. In this view, punishment is not just necessary; it’s also deserved. When a person commits a crime, they violate the laws set by society. As such, they should face the consequences.

This model uses prisons as a means to administer these consequences. These institutions under the Justice Model aren’t about comfort or opportunities for personal growth. They are designed to be punitive. Their purpose is to deter people from engaging in criminal behavior by making the experience of imprisonment unpleasant. This can include harsh living conditions, limited access to education, and reduced contact with the outside world.

Other Names for the Justice Model

The Justice Model is also sometimes referred to as the Retributive Model or Just Deserts Model. This is because the model focuses on the concept of retribution, where punishment is given as a response to the crime committed. The term “Just Deserts” reflects the model’s principle that the punishment should fit the crime, meaning that criminals get what they “deserve” for their wrongdoing. This model is contrasted with others like the Rehabilitation Model, which focuses on reforming the offender, or the Deterrence Model, which uses punishment as a way to discourage or prevent future criminal behavior.

Comparing Rehabilitation and the Justice Model

The Justice Model is often compared to the Rehabilitation Model of imprisonment. Unlike this model, the Rehabilitation Model puts its focus on reforming and rehabilitating offenders. It aims to prevent future criminal behavior. In this model, prisons provide education, vocational programs, and mental health services to help prisoners reintegrate into society after release.

Advocates of the Justice Model argue that the Rehabilitation Model is too soft. They believe it doesn’t adequately punish offenders for their crimes. In their eyes, the justice system should first and foremost uphold the rule of law. It should ensure that those who break the law face suitable punishment.

Critiques of the Justice Model

However, the Justice Model also faces criticism. Critics argue that it is overly punitive and neglects to address the root causes of criminal behavior. These might include issues like poverty, addiction, or mental illness. Instead of tackling these problems, this model focuses solely on punishment.

Critics also believe that the Justice Model may increase the chances of reoffending or recidivism. They argue that without addressing underlying issues and focusing only on punishment, the Justice Model can perpetuate a cycle of crime and punishment. An individual released from prison without any rehabilitation may return to criminal behavior.

The Bigger Picture

While the Justice Model and the Rehabilitation Model represent two different philosophies, they both aim for a safer society. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. This model emphasizes accountability and punishment, which may deter some individuals from criminal behavior. However, its critics argue that it lacks compassion and doesn’t address the root causes of crime.

The conversation about these models reflects broader debates about the purpose of the justice system. Should it focus on punishment or rehabilitation? This is a question without an easy answer. It’s a subject that continues to engage lawmakers, scholars, and the public.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, this model of imprisonment is a punitive approach to criminal justice. It emphasizes punishment over rehabilitation, aiming to deter crime by making the experience of imprisonment unpleasant. However, while some see this as a necessary form of accountability, others criticize it for neglecting to address the root causes of criminal behavior. Understanding these perspectives is key to appreciating the complex debates surrounding our justice system.

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Last Modified: 06/12/2023

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