1st Edition

Perceptions of Criminal Justice

By Vicky De Mesmaecker Copyright 2014
    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    In recent decades, research into the legitimacy of criminal justice has convincingly demonstrated the importance of procedural justice to citizens’ sense of trust and confidence in legal authorities and their resulting willingness to conform to the law and cooperate with the legal authorities. Reversing the age-old question ‘why do people break the law?’, theories of procedural justice have provided insight into the factors that encourage people to abide by the law, suggesting that experiences of procedural fairness are crucial to achieving compliance with the law and to enhancing the legitimacy of criminal justice.

    While these studies are important in showing that legal authorities need to pay attention to the fairness judgements of the people involved in legal procedures, the focus on showing the importance of procedural justice has had the ironic consequence of distracting researchers from studying the equally important question of what fairness means to the people involved in legal proceedings.

    In one of the first studies on procedural justice to use a qualitative research design, the author provides the reader with detailed and insightful descriptions of the elements that determine how victims and defendants assess the fairness of their contact with the police and the courts. Focusing on both the pre-trial and the post-trial phases, this book will be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of the psychology of law, procedural justice and the legitimacy of criminal justice.

    Part I Setting the Stage  Chapter 1 Introduction: improving understanding of the lay meaning of procedural justice  Chapter 2 Methodology and design of the empirical study  Part II The Perceived Fairness of the Criminal Proceedings  Chapter 3 Perceptions of procedural justice in encounters with the police  Chapter 4 Perceptions of procedural justice in pre-trial encounters with the judiciary  Chapter 5 Perceptions of procedural justice in encounters with the courts  Part III Conclusion: The Meaning of Procedural Justice  Chapter 6 New perspectives on the antecedents of perceptions of procedural justice.


    Vicky De Mesmaecker obtained a master's degree in Criminology, a master's degree in International Relations and Conflict Management and a PhD in Criminology at the University of Leuven, Belgium. She worked as a doctoral researcher, postdoctoral researcher and affiliated researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology (University of Leuven, Belgium) and has been a visiting researcher at Yale University in the United States and at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement in the Netherlands. Her main fields of study include theories of procedural justice, the legitimacy of criminal justice and legal authorities, victimology and restorative justice.

    ‘This is cutting edge work, which addresses current debates in the fields of criminology, victimology and social psychology. A must-read for anyone interested in justice issues.’ - Jo-Anne Wemmers, Professor, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal, Canada

    ‘Using detailed, open-ended interviews with victims and offenders, this book expands the widely used but conceptually limited framework within which researchers have explored procedural justice issues. It reinvigorates the field with a new and broader conceptual framework through which to understand how fairness is defined by those involved in the criminal justice system.’ - Tom R. Tyler, Macklin Fleming, Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School, USA

    ‘The insights of procedural justice research are of crucial importance for most fields of law, yet they are hardly integrated into current legal discourse and practice. In order to make procedural justice operational, we need to know what people experience as fair or unfair in a wide range of different circumstances. It is therefore my sincere hope that this book will set a trend of qualitative research in the field of procedural justice.’ - Prof. Dr. Eva Brems, Ghent University Law School, Belgium

    ‘This illuminating volume contains important messages for all those involved in procedural justice research. Interviews with defendants and victims within the Belgian criminal justice system demonstrate the complex, multi-dimensional nature of people’s "justice judgements", and underline the need for a more detailed conceptual and empirical understanding of the idea of procedural justice. Everyone interested in moving this exciting area of research forward should read this book.’ - Ben Bradford, Departmental Lecturer in Criminology, University of Oxford, UK