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Legitimacy and Criminal Justice

Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: An International Perspective

Tom R. Tyler editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Legitimacy and Criminal Justice
    Book Description:

    The police and the courts depend on the cooperation of communities to keep order. But large numbers of urban poor distrust law enforcement officials.Legitimacy and Criminal Justiceexplores the reasons that legal authorities are or are not seen as legitimate and trustworthy by many citizens.

    Legitimacy and Criminal Justiceis the first study of the perceived legitimacy of legal institutions outside the U.S. The authors investigate relations between courts, the police, and communities in the U.K., Western Europe, South Africa, Slovenia, South America, and Mexico, demonstrating the importance of social context in shaping those relations. Gorazd Meško and Goran Klemenčič examine Slovenia's adoption of Western-style "community policing" during its transition to democracy. In the context of Slovenia's recent Communist past-when "community policing" entailed omnipresent social and political control-citizens regarded these efforts with great suspicion, and offered little cooperation to the police. When states fail to control crime, informal methods of law can gain legitimacy. Jennifer Johnson discusses an extra-legal policing system carried out by farmers in Guerrero, Mexico-complete with sentencing guidelines and initiatives to reintegrate offenders into the community. Feeling that federal authorities were not prosecuting the crimes that plagued their province, the citizens of Guerrero strongly supported this extra-legal arrangement, and engaged in massive protests when the central government tried to suppress it. Several of the authors examine how the perceived legitimacy of the police and courts varies across social groups. Graziella Da Silva, Ignacio Cano, and Hugo Frühling show that attitudes toward the police vary greatly across social classes in harshly unequal societies like Brazil and Chile. And many of the authors find that ethnic minorities often display greater distrust toward the police, and perceive themselves to be targets of police discrimination. Indeed, Hans-Jöerg Albrecht finds evidence of bias in arrests of the foreign born in Germany, which has fueled discontent among Berlin's Turkish youth. Sophie Body-Gendrot points out that mutual hostility between police and minority communities can lead to large-scale violence, as the Parisian banlieu riots underscored.

    The case studies presented in this important new book show that fostering cooperation between law enforcement and communities requires the former to pay careful attention to the needs and attitudes of the latter. Forging a new field of comparative research,Legitimacy and Criminal Justicebrings to light many of the reasons the law's representatives succeed-or fail-in winning citizens' hearts and minds.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-541-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)

    • CHAPTER 1 Preface
      (pp. 3-8)
      Michael Tonry
    • CHAPTER 2 Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: International Perspectives
      (pp. 9-29)
      Tom R. Tyler, Anthony Braga, Jeffrey Fagan, Tracey Meares, Robert Sampson and Chris Winship

      All societies create institutions and authorities whose purpose is to maintain social order. Two key institutions are the police and the courts, agencies that work cooperatively to create and enforce laws and regulations that shape public conduct in socially desirable ways. Societal viability is linked to the effectiveness of those authorities and institutions and societies cannot survive without being able to enforce their rules (Tyler and Huo 2002).

      This need for a strategy of social-order maintenance is universal across societies, but the degree of variation in approaches to law enforcement is striking. Within the United States, for example, cities are...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Foundations of Legitimacy
      (pp. 30-58)
      David J. Smith

      The starting point for the enterprise reported in this volume—an enterprise that should be regarded as a work in progress—is the substantial American tradition of research on procedural justice as a key influence on the legitimacy of legal authority. This is a relatively new body of work that uses the concepts and tools of social psychology to tackle a very old set of problems. It was given its impetus in the late 1980s by Tom Tyler and his associates, and has gathered pace since then. The central problem, encapsulated in the title of Tyler’s 1990 book, is to...


    • CHAPTER 4 Introduction
      (pp. 61-62)

      The concept of legitimacy has been extensively studied within the American context, as both the introduction and the overview by David Smith make clear. The chapters in this section of the book broaden the discussion by examining whether and how legitimacy might matter within other political and social settings. England and Wales, examined by Mike Hough, share many features with the United States, including long-term stability, and provide a comparison to the American experience. In contrast, Slovenia, which is the focus of the chapter by Gorazd Meško and Goran Klemenčič, is a society in rapid transition; the policing that occurs...

    • CHAPTER 5 Policing, New Public Management, and Legitimacy in Britain
      (pp. 63-83)
      Mike Hough

      This chapter is an attempt to unravel two puzzles in British policing.¹ The first is that crime is falling; government efforts to further reform policing continue; and yet public ratings of the police show little response to these. The second is that public, political, and—to an extent—academic debate about policing has become locked within a self-evidently crude instrumentalist model of crime control, which has largely ignored issues to do with fairness and legitimacy. I shall suggest that the puzzles can be solved with the same key. I shall trace the fairly complex linkages between the government’s “modernization” agenda...

    • CHAPTER 6 Rebuilding Legitimacy and Police Professionalism in an Emerging Democracy: The Slovenian Experience
      (pp. 84-114)
      Gorazd Meško and Goran Klemenčič

      Efforts to develop a more professional, legitimate, accountable, and efficient police service are present in all societies. There are few, if any, countries that can be fully satisfied with the level of professionalism of its police service, its level of legitimacy within the society—especially among different ethnic, socioeconomic, or other minorities—and with the outcomes the police deliver in terms of security while respecting the rule of law and individual liberties. However, the challenges posed to the police organization are incomparably greater in an emerging democracy or a post-conflict state; Slovenia was such a state in the early 1990s,...

    • CHAPTER 7 Police Legitimacy in Chile
      (pp. 115-145)
      Hugo Frühling

      Crime rates in Chile have experienced a sustained increase since the return to a democratic system of government in 1990. In recent years incidents of theft reported to the police increased from 714.1 per one hundred thousand inhabitants in 2001 to 971.4 per one hundred thousand inhabitants in 2004. Robberies with violence or intimidation reported to the police also increased, from 189.4 per one hundred thousand inhabitants in 2001 to 298.1 per one hundred thousand inhabitants in 2004. This rise in crime has been confirmed by two surveys, both undertaken in 2003, which also revealed high levels of feelings of...

    • CHAPTER 8 Building Legitimacy Through Restorative Justice
      (pp. 146-162)
      John Braithwaite

      Until the nineteenth century, criminal justice in the most developed nations such as Britain and United States was mostly a victim-initiated process.

      Two centuries ago, if a case went to court it was not a result of arrest by professional police and prosecution by a state prosecutor. The victim might enlist the help of others to apprehend the felon by hiring private investigators or by enrolling a posse of volunteers. The prosecution would also be a private prosecution, by victims, thief takers, or bounty hunters seeking a reward. There were certainly village constables, mostly volunteers, who in various ways steered...


    • CHAPTER 9 Introduction
      (pp. 165-166)

      From an American perspective, policing is a formal and centralized process, conducted by institutions and authorities connected to the state. The chapters in this section make clear that this is only one of a variety of approaches that can be taken to creating and maintaining social order. In particular, when the formal state lacks legitimacy, communities may create alternative mechanisms for maintaining social order, mechanisms that resemble the informal policing authorities found in the history of many societies that now have formal and professionalized police forces.

      Jennifer Johnson (chapter 10) touches on this theme in the case of Mexico, arguing...

    • CHAPTER 10 When the Poor Police Themselves: Public Insecurity and Extralegal Criminal-Justice Administration in Mexico
      (pp. 167-185)
      Jennifer L. Johnson

      In the face of dramatic increases in violent crime in the 1990s in Latin America and the inadequacy of top-down police reform to stem this tide, citizens throughout the region have intensified efforts to protect themselves. As the current boom in the private security industry evidences, a growing number of such citizens have turned to the free market to procure protection (Davis 2003; Davis et al. 2003; Regalado Santillán 2002; Smulovitz 2003). Through the consumption of gated residences, private security personnel, high-tech alarm systems, and even armored cars, these members of the Latin American elite and upper middle classes self-provision...

    • CHAPTER 11 Between Damage Reduction and Community Policing: The Case of Pavão-Pavãozinho-Cantagalo in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas
      (pp. 186-214)
      Graziella Moraes D. da Silva and Ignacio Cano

      With an average homicide rate of fifty to sixty per hundred thousand residents, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most violent cities in the world. Violence is concentrated in poor neighborhoods, especially in favelas (shantytowns). A significant portion of these homicides occurs in violent confrontations with policemen who “invade” these communities in “arrest and apprehend” operations.¹ As an attempt to stop this violent dynamic, a program called GPAE, for Grupamento Policial em Areas Especiais—literally, Police Group in Special Areas—was implemented in one of these favelas, Pavão-Pavãozinho-Cantagalo, in 2000. In one year GPAE succeeded in eliminating police casualties...

    • CHAPTER 12 Popular Justice in the New South Africa: Policing the Boundaries of Freedom
      (pp. 215-238)
      John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff

      For all the hope stirred by the end of apartheid, the transition to democracy in South Africa, beginning in 1994, opened up a social and moral vacuum—not to mention a huge wealth-gap—in which violence and disorder, real and imagined, became commonplace. By the late 1990s, a police service regarded as incompetent, toothless, and overzealously committed to human rights was struggling to cope with rising rates of murder, rape, robbery, and car jacking. Frightened citizens, irrespective of race, class, geography, or gender, came to believe that the inability of government to guarantee their safety mocked their newfound freedoms. It...


    • CHAPTER 13 Introduction
      (pp. 241-242)

      The issue of minority-group relations can be approached in a variety of ways. One approach involves focusing on social dynamics and examines the way that societies manage the problems of having distinct social groups within a common social and legal system. These issues are confounded with questions of poverty and social marginality, since both recent immigrants and the members of stigmatized groups are likely to be poorer and less well educated, and to live in areas that suffer from a variety of social problems, including high levels of crime and incivility. Irrespective of whether the defining framework is ethnicity, religion,...

    • CHAPTER 14 Police, Justice, and Youth Violence in France
      (pp. 243-276)
      Sophie Body-Gendrot

      On November 12, 2005, a caption under a picture of burned cars at Clichy-sous-Bois, published by theNew York Times,read: “Disorders in immigrant enclaves in France remind many of the 1960s in the U.S. or the riots in Los Angeles.” The media, using words such asdisorders, riots, disturbances, unrest, rebellion, confrontation, lawlessness,and many more in an indistinguishable fashion, make all events look alike. By using blanket words, such as “riots,” in this case, they combine in one category phenomena that are in fact distinct from one country, one city, one month, one year to another. What they...

    • CHAPTER 15 Ethnic Minorities and Confidence in the Dutch Criminal-Justice System
      (pp. 277-301)
      Catrien Bijleveld, Heike Goudriaan and Marijke Malsch

      Amsterdam has witnessed a number of incidents of unrest in recent years, centered on large groups of young migrants from North Africa, whom the police accuse of obstructing their work and attacking them for no reason, and who, conversely, accused the police of discriminating against them. Recently, Dutch newspapers have published interviews with municipal officials from Amsterdam and Rotterdam who claimed that they were “desperate” and stated that a small nucleus of troublesome ethnic youths should simply be incarcerated, because “nothing helps.” Public remarks by some high-ranking police officers and politicians have not exactly helped to lighten up the atmosphere:...

    • CHAPTER 16 Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: Inequality and Discrimination in the German Criminal-Justice System
      (pp. 302-332)
      Hans-Jörg Albrecht

      Legitimacy is strongly linked to impartiality, fairness, and neutrality in procedure and proceedings, as the late German sociologist Niklas Luhmann pointed out (Luhmann 1978).

      Of course, decisionmaking in the criminal justice system at various points provides for substantial risks to fairness and impartiality. Policing in general and for the purpose of law enforcement, stop-and-search activities, arrest of suspects, detention prior to trial, decisions on prosecution and indictment, trial and sentencing, and the process of criminal corrections carry a risk of discriminatory treatment, in terms of both individual and group discrimination. Decisionmaking to the disadvantage of particular groups may be grounded...

    • CHAPTER 17 Minorities, Fairness, and the Legitimacy of the Criminal-Justice System in France
      (pp. 333-380)
      Sebastian Roché

      Tackling the problem of the legitimacy and fairness of the criminal-justice system in France is very complex, especially when the treatment of minorities within the system is the issue. In fact, minority groups themselves have no official existence within the French institutional system. Ethnicity-defined policies are not permitted in the color-blind French republican model. Communities and “communitarianism” (in other words, identified ethnic communities and minorities) are described by top officials as a threat to the unity of the nation-state.¹ Consequently, it is not “politically correct” to question the legitimacy of the criminal-justice system or the state from the point of...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 381-395)