Redressing Grievances: The Criminal Justice Model

  • William C. HeffernanEmail author
Part of the Critical Criminological Perspectives book series (CCRP)


This chapter examines the criminal justice model in both the pure form in which it can be notionally imagined and the modified form in which it has come to be practiced. Under the pure criminal justice model, the state alone is concerned with the resolution of grievances concerning malicious acts. That is, according to the pure model, state officials impartially evaluate claims concerning wrongful conduct; state rules prohibit self-help; and judges impose punishment proportionate to an offender’s culpability. This pure version has never been realized in practice. Nonetheless, the pure version accounts satisfactorily for a great deal of current practice. Because it does, the chapter traces the route to virtual state domination of grievance-redress that now prevails in Anglo-American law. In relying on theoretical points made earlier, the chapter also defends the soundness of this process of evolution, arguing that, on the one hand, the consolidation of state power in redressing grievances has contributed to a substantial reduction of violence during the last millennium and, on the other hand, that the criminal justice system holds out the prospect of greater fairness in grievance-redress than does a scheme that relies on self-help remedies.


Beccaria, Cesare Criminal justice Criminal justice model Culpability Deterrence Impartiality Injury Justice Lex talionis Montesquieu, Baron de Proportionality Punishment Redressing grievances Retaliation model Retribution State 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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