Background: Theories of procedural justice suggest that individuals who experience the processes and procedures used to make legal decisions as fair are more likely to perceive the legal system as legitimate, and in turn, less likely to offend. When individuals come into contact with the legal system, however, they are not blank slates but have beliefs and personality characteristics that may systematically influence their perception of justice and legitimacy. Aims: Our aim was to establish the extent to which personal characteristics, whether demographic, legal or clinical, influence the degree to which young people experience the justice system as fair and legitimate. Method: Self-report, file, and interview data were collected from 92 12-17 year-olds on probation in Western Canada. Results: There was some relationship between scores on the youth version of the psychopathy checklist and perceptions of fairness and legitimacy, and between substance misuse and the justice variables, but after taking all significant variables into consideration, history of major traumatic experience was the only one to be independently associated with perceptions of justice. Those in the youngest age group in our sample were more likely to have positive perceptions of justice than the older, but demographics and legal history otherwise seemed irrelevant. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that examining personal qualities and experiences which may have a relationship the relationship with perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy are worth exploring further. It may be that young people who do not accept the law as legitimate or the criminal justice system as fair could be more likely to offend.
Penner, E. K., Shaffer, C. S., & Viljoen, J. L. (2016). Questioning fairness: The relationship of mental health and psychopathic characteristics with young offenders’ perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health. DOI: 10.1002/cbm.2004.
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health
Questioning Fairness: The Relationship of Mental Health and Psychopathic Characteristics with Young Offenders’ Perceptions of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy
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