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Conflict model (criminal justice)

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The conflict model (non-System perspective or system conflict theory) of criminal justice argues that the organizations of a criminal justice system either do, or should, work competitively to produce justice, as opposed to cooperatively (See: consensus model). System conflict theory argues that worries over fame, promotions, wages[?], and success cause the criminal justice system to conflict with itself. This perspective argues that there is no true system and points to the role of adversarial processes, in particular, which are seen to be basic to the "system", and the fact that many criminal justice organizations habitually share as little information as possible.

This school of thought is followed both by groups which argue that the conflict model is the reality of criminal justice, but the consensus model is the ideal; and groups which argue that the conflict model is both the reality and the ideal.

One example of conflict within the system is that between the police and prison officials. The model argues that police desire to put criminals into prison whereas prison officials who are concerned about overcrowded facilities may desire to release criminals from prison.

Jerome Skolnick

Jerome Skolnick has argued that clearance rates demonstrate the reality of the Conflict Model by encouraging police to focus on appearing to do their job, rather than on actually doing their job. This is a comparable argument to that regarding standardized testing, and "teaching to the test[?]". Skolnick noted one incident where police coerced a man to confess to over 400 burglaries so that they could have a high rate of crime solving (clearance).

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