Public Perceptions Matter: A Procedural Justice Study Examining an Arrestee Population
Research has shown that the manner in which people are treated in their interactions with agents of the criminal justice system matters. People expect criminal justice officials to treat them fairly and with honesty and respect, which is the basis for procedural justice. When people are treated in a procedurally just and equitable manner they will view the system as legitimate and will be more likely to voluntarily comply and cooperate with legal system directives. People who have personal or vicarious experiences of unfair or unjust interactions with the legal system tend to view the system as less legitimate and are less likely to comply and cooperate when they have contact with representatives of the system.
This study examines a random sample of 337 arrestees in Maricopa County, Arizona who have been interviewed as a part of the Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis are used to examine views of the procedural justice experienced by arrestees during arrest, perceptions of police legitimacy by arrestees, voluntary compliance to the law, and voluntary cooperation with police. Results of the study show that perceptions of legitimacy work through procedural justice, and that procedurally just interactions with police mediate racial effects on views of legitimacy. Views of procedural justice and legitimacy increase cooperation. No variables in this study were significantly related to compliance.