Do Offenders Recognize Fair Treatment When They Receive It? The Effect of Objectively Fair Procedures on Perceptions of Fairness in Diversionary Conferences and Court

Reagan Daly, University of Pennsylvania

The question of why people obey the law is of interest not only to law enforcement officials, but also to members of society in general. Knowing what motivates individuals to comply with regulations will ultimately enable communities to reduce crime and increase safety. Tyler (1990) presents a normative theory of compliance in which obedience is based on an individual's sense of legitimacy for the law. Legitimacy, defined as a person's obligation to obey authorities even if he thinks they are wrong, is in turn influenced by the person's experiences with the law. The most important influence is his perception of how fairly he has been treated. Tyler's normative theory rests on the assumption that there is a relationship between fair treatment of individuals, or objective procedural justice, and perceptions of fair treatent. In this paper, I will test this relationship with respect to one particular subgroup of society -- criminal offenders.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006