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Mirage of Police Reform

Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy

Robert E. Worden (Author), Sarah J. McLean (Author)

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In the United States, the exercise of police authority—and the public’s trust that police authority is used properly—is a recurring concern. Contemporary prescriptions for police reform hold that the public would better trust the police and feel a greater obligation to comply and cooperate if police-citizen interactions were marked by higher levels of procedural justice by police.
In this book, Robert E. Worden and Sarah J. McLean argue that the procedural justice model of reform is a mirage. From a distance, procedural justice seemingly offers a relief from strained police-community relations. But a closer look at police organizations and police-citizen interactions shows that the relief offered by such reform is, in fact, illusory.

Robert E. Worden is Director of the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Sarah J. McLean is Associate Director and Director of Research and Technical Assistance at the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety.
“An exceptional piece of scholarship on policing and police reform. Rigorous and thoughtful, its careful methodology and provocative conclusions on procedural justice illuminate key challenges for political leaders, policy makers, and practitioners who strive to improve police community relations in America. Must-reading for police researchers!”—Steven Mastrofski, George Mason University
“A major contribution to the study of procedural justice in policing. Based on careful empirical research, this timely book challenges widespread assumptions about procedural justice. It provides a potent reminder that much remains to be learned about how people form perceptions of the police, and how police agencies can influence these perceptions.”—Edward R. Maguire, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University
“Since Ferguson, the nation has been searching for solutions to the legitimacy crisis that has engulfed policing. Procedural justice was the number one reform put forward by President Obama’s commission. This book digs into this proposal and provides the best evidence to date on how it actually affects police behavior and public acceptance of being policed.”—Wesley G. Skogan, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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