Procedural Justice

Research has shown that when defendants and other court users perceive the court process to be fair, they are more likely to comply with court orders and follow the law in the future—regardless of whether they “win” or “lose” their case. The Center for Court Innovation works to promote procedural justice in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to testing promising practices on the ground in various operating programs in and around New York City, the Center offers training and expert assistance to jurisdictions that are interested in assessing or enhancing their procedural justice practices in a variety of criminal justice settings. 

Several practitioner resources are available below. To request targeted training or expert assistance, please email info@courtinnvation.org

What is Procedural Justice?

Researchers like Tom Tyler of Yale Law School have boiled down procedural justice to a handful of key elements, namely that court users feel that:

  • They are treated with dignity and respect;
  • They understand the process;
  • They have a voice; and
  • Decisions about their case are made neutrally.

Research tells us that enhancing these core elements can significantly impact how litigants perceive the court process, as well as improve their compliance with court orders and reduce recidivism.

Video

What is Procedural Justice?

This three-minute animated video provides a simple overview of procedural justice, why it matters, and how it can improve compliance and other justice-system outcomes. Produced with funding provided by the State Justice Institute.
Watch the video

Practitioner Resources

Implementation tips:

Training resources:

Measuring change:

In The News

  • The Guardian profiles Newark Community Solutions, examining the origins and evolution of the program and the growing national interest in procedural justice.
  • During a speech at the Community Policing Roundtable in Pittsburgh, U.S. Attorney General Lorreta E. Lynch highlights a collaboration between the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation to conduct a procedural justice assessment in Allegheny County courts.
  • Judge Alex Calabrese of the Red Hook Community Justice Center joins Latino USA to discuss the Justice Center's emphasis on procedural justice.
  • Victoria Pratt, chief judge of Newark Municipal Court, describes her work on procedural justice during an appearance on "The Melissa Harris-Perry Show" on MSNBC.
  • Q&A with Julian Adler of the Center for Court Innovation on how procedural justice can reduce crime.

Publications

Integrating Procedural Justice in Domestic Violence Cases

Integrating Procedural Justice in Domestic Violence Cases

This fact sheet explains the concept of procedural justice and offers a few simple strategies for courts and domestic violence stakeholders to enhance procedural justice and improve outcomes for both victims and defendants.

Articles

In Focus: Tracey L. Meares

In Focus: Tracey L. Meares

Tracey L. Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, has written and lectured widely on crime prevention, procedural justice, and community capacity building, with an emphasis on empirical investigation. She was instrumental in developing "Project Safe Neighborhoods," a groundbreaking empirical approach to violence reduction that was documented to curtail violence in Chicago.

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Publications

Improving Courtroom Communication: A Procedural Justice Experiment in Milwaukee

Improving Courtroom Communication: A Procedural Justice Experiment in Milwaukee

By Erin Farley, Elise Jensen and Michael Rempel

This is an evaluation of a pilot project at the Milwaukee County Criminal Court intended to enhance defendant perceptions of procedural justice by improving the oral, written, and nonverbal communication used by judges. Courtroom observations measured an increase in the use of 14 practices inculding eye contact with defendants and the use of plain English to explain procedures and decisions.

Interviews

Tom Tyler PhD, Professor, Yale University

Tom Tyler PhD, Professor, Yale University

Tom Tyler, a professor at Yale University and leading advocate of procedural justice, talks about recent research on the topic, as well as the challenges and opportunities for procedural justice practices to be institutionalized system-wide. For more, watch a video of his presentation "Why Procedural Justice Matters" at Community Justice 2012.


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Most Popular Research

Publications

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

By Michael Rempel

This fact sheet distills a growing body of research about evidence-based strategies in five areas for reducing recidivism among criminal offenders: assessment, treatment, deterrence, procedural justice, and collaboration.

Video

Why Procedural Justice Matters: Tom R. Tyler at Community Justice 2012

Publications

Procedural Fairness in California: Initiatives, Challenges, and Recommendations

Procedural Fairness in California: Initiatives, Challenges, and Recommendations

By Rachel Porter

This report, commissioned by the Administrative Office of the Courts in California, describes initiatives in California's civil and traffic courts to improve procedural fairness. The report also contains a brief self-assessment tool that court administrators can use to examine procedural fairness in their local jurisdictions.

Contact
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  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • 601 Tully Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13204
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
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    1-3 Brixton Road
  • London, SW9 6DE
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060