The Justice Collaboratory conducted a community study on behalf of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), looking into New Yorker’s engagement with the city government. The study, which ran from 2017-2018, focused on three broad themes: residents’ perceptions of and involvement in the life of their neighborhoods, knowledge of municipal services and participation in city government, and perceptions of fairness, or lack thereof, in resident’ dealings with the New York Police Department.
Despite the salience of procedural justice throughout the criminal justice system, few studies have systematically assessed what constitutes procedural justice in the other component parts of the system or how individuals view procedural justice of one component of the criminal justice system in relation to others. Moreover, to date, few studies have attempted to measure perceptions of procedural justice on a community level, allowing comparison of procedural justice and legal legitimacy across neighborhoods. In addition, procedural justice surveys have tended to focus on one criminal justice agency at a time, for example focusing on just police or just courts. While these more narrow studies have significant value, they omit the perceived procedural justice of other actors—probation officers, correctional officers, attorneys, and so forth—and overlook ways they may collectively contribute to communities’ perceptions of the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.
This study also focuses on the workers who keep the machinery of criminal justice moving by examining criminal justice workers’ views of the justness (or injustice) of the system they help to operate and how this may affect their behaviors, which may impact on how components of the system are viewed by members of the public. We also consider whether criminal justice workers may in some cases be called upon to perform on the job in ways that run counter to their individual views or feelings, and, if and when this occurs, explore the emotional consequences for those workers. By learning more about how procedural justice is produced (or inhibited) within criminal justice organizations, we hope to be able to offer insight to policymakers about how to recruit, train, and manage employees who will further this aim. This research may also be of interest to jurisdictions where criminal justice agencies are being downsized, as these workers may be moving into other industries, and taking the lessons of their criminal justice employment with them.