The Goal Model in Criminal Justice

What is the Goal Model in Criminal Justice?



The administration of justice has always attracted immense scholarly interest, however, there have been very limited theoretical discussion regarding the process itself. The criminal justice system can be regarded as an organization which has got administrative tasks; therefore some of these tasks have to be examined in relation to concepts that have been established with respect to this perspective. The criminal justice formal task is to hand the proper sanctions in case a person is found guilty, process arrests and determine the innocence or guilt of a person. These tasks are carried out by major players in the system that include arresting officers, parole officers, prosecutors, judges, defence counsels, court clerks, the plaintiff, the defendant, policemen, witnesses, court psychiatrists, social workers and other additional person. The amount of people involved in the administration of justice as has been listed above warrantee proper organization because they have to follow stringent rules due to their highly defined roles (Malcolm, 1973).  This paper therefore will try to look into the existing theoretical framework through which administration of justice has been set in a bid to attain its main responsibility of processing arrests. Particular focus will be directed to the ‘goal model’ and how it has faired on in its quest to act as an effective model for justice administration. Its weaknesses will be highlighted and other possible solutions discussed in order to come up with a reasonable conclusion on how better to handle criminal justice administration.
The Goal Model
As Hall and Tolbert (2005) put it; this model is very effective as it is both complex but very simple. Effectiveness under this model is defined in the extent an organisation is able to recognize its set goals. The model hypothesizes organisations as rational entities.  This basically implies that the organization can be encouraged to achieve its set objectives because the objectives are well known. In relation to criminal justice, it implies that since the processing of arrests is the main objective, then its effectiveness can be measured in terms of conviction rates, arrests rate and recidivism which all combine to reflect the goal model in criminal justice administration. This is no different as evaluating a company’s effectiveness based on the accrued profits at the end of its operations.
Limitations of the Goal Model
As has been discussed above, the goal model is very simple in its applications used to measure the effectiveness of an organisation. However, the complex part (which also brings the model’s limitations) associated with the model revolves around defining the goals of an organization. In most organization it is very common to find that the various departments have got differing goals and this contributes to the whole organisation not achieving its set objectives. A balance of probability is therefore always sought to equalise quality and quantity goals as well as defining the short term and the long term considerations. Criminal justice administration has been rocked with the same issues presented with the goal oriented model, for instance the police department in the system are tasked with ensuring due process and also controlling crime. Additionally, they maintain order, reduce fear of crime and also help in revenue generation by enforcing practices. In such an entangled web, it becomes very complicated for the main goal of the police department for instance to be identified.
The model also poses problems in identifying official and operative goals. The criminal justice department find it hard to distinguish the two.  When it tries to consider the official goals, unrealistic standards are invoked and this leads to ignoring of the goals actually being pursued. On the other hand, when it tries to consider the operative goals, the system finds it very difficult to contrast and compare effectiveness across all its organisations.
The goal model has also created problems when it comes to measuring goal attainment. For instance when a police officer is compassionate to a victim it is generally not viewed as a contributing actor to the effectiveness of the system towards achieving its set goal, the only considered aspect in measuring effectiveness under the police department is by the arrest statistics. Therefore, under the goal model, it becomes very hard to categorize or measure behaviour which is important to the realisation of the goals. Generally the way an organisation evaluates its process is of importance to the attainment of the main goals.
The model has also exhibited problems between goal attainment and the consequences it has on the organisation. In public service, just like in the administration of justice, it becomes very hard to understand the services provided from a business angle.  For the police departments for instance, even when crimes are on the rise, it becomes very impossible to cut down the budget. When prisons and correctional facilities were seen as a failed operation more resources were actually pumped into the sector. If the goals of the criminal justice department are to be carefully analysed, then it would be concluded that the correctional facilities are actually a failure on their part.
Advantages of the Goal Model
The Compstat (computer + statistics) program has been hailed as the most successive goal model based program. It has been used to manage and also compel responsibility in criminal reduction and criminal analysis as well as helping in clarifying the goals and the mission of the criminal administration at the district level. This has been regarded as a comprehensive strategy to measure and improve the effectiveness of the police works in relation to achieving the set goal. The program has been considered effective as the police officers can now measure the rate of the reduced crimes.
Other Possible Alternatives to the Goal Model
There are various other models that can be used to substitute the goal oriented model which has been viewed as broad and very complex.  The Internal Process Model which posits that effective organisation has little internal conflict especially in regards to the flow of information both vertically and horizontally (Perrow, 1986). The model is very effective especially in criminal justice where agreeing on other goals as well is hard to attain.
Another model that can be used in place of the goal model is the Participant satisfaction model which focuses on the key constituents. The constituents may include clients (especially in social service), resource providers or the customers. This model in criminal justice may enhance good rapport between prosecutors and the police officers. It may also help in shading some light on the close relationship between public defenders and their ‘enemies’ in court rooms.
The goal model can also be substituted by the process approach model which measures effectiveness as a process as opposed to an end state (Steers, 1977). This model integrates goal optimization which requires a balance in the goals, a systematic view which deals with changing the environment of the organization and lastly behavioural emphasis which proposes attention the individual contribution of employees to the organisation.
The goal model can lastly be replaced by the system resource model which posits that the effectiveness of an organisation is not goal oriented but is rather based on the way an organisation acquires resources from its environment (Yuchtman &Seashore, 1967).
Reasonable Conclusion
From the above consideration, it can be concluded that, first of all there are various other models which can be used to effect proper administration within the criminal justice system. While the model used currently (goal oriented) has been found to be effective, its limitations outweigh its usefulness and therefore warrantees an overhaul in the model. Consequently the internal process model which has been seen to encourage the flow of information vertically and horizontally should be considered. This way better communication narrows down the scope of the criminal justice and helps in eliminating the red tapes which have made it difficult for the department to meet its goals.


Malcolm, M.F. (1973). Two Models of the Criminal Justice System: An Organizational Perspective. Blackwell publishing.  Law & Society Review,7, 407-426

Perrow, C. (1986). Complex Organisations: A Critical Essay. Random House. New York

Richard, H.H., & Pamela, S.T. (2005). Organizations: Structures, Processes, and Outcomes. Pearson Prentice Hall. Indiana University

Steers, R.M. (1977). Organizational Effectiveness: A behavioural View. Goodyear Pub. Co Santa Monica, California

Stan, S., John, K. & David K. (2011). Criminal Justice Organizations: Administration and Management. Cengage Learning.

Yuchtman, R.F. & Seashore, S. (1967). A System Resource Approach to Organizational Effectiveness. American Sociological Review, 32, 891-903.


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