The (ir)relevance of procedural justice in the pathways to crime

Law Hum Behav. 2015 Aug;39(4):388-401. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000122. Epub 2015 Jan 26.


Process-based approaches to compliance argue that normative considerations, such as procedural justice and legitimacy, have the potential to reduce offending. This perspective was formalized with Tyler's (1990, 2003) Model of Procedural Justice and subsequently was evaluated among adult and adolescent offenders alike. However, extant evaluations do not consider whether and how individual offending histories affect the relevance of the concepts of procedural justice and legitimacy on offending behavior. This void is problematic given the growing concern that judgments of procedural justice and perceived legitimacy may not always be relevant with respect to compliance (Tyler & Jackson, 2013). This research integrates a developmental perspective with the procedural justice model to evaluate the effects of procedural justice and legitimacy on offending among early-onset and adolescent-onset offenders. Using a sample of convicted adolescent offenders, evidence suggests that the relevance of the procedural justice model varies across age of onset. The normative considerations of procedural justice and legitimacy are unrelated to recidivism among early-onset offenders, yet they affect subsequent offending among adolescent-onset offenders, although not always in the direction specified by theory.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arizona
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime / psychology
  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Criminals*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Male
  • Pennsylvania