A comparative analysis of Australian prisons in accordance with procedural justice theory

Shelley Eder*, Charles Darwin University

*Shelley.Eder@cdu.edu.au

 

Research has consistently demonstrated that factors related to procedural justice can and do impact rates of compliance with the law. Recent research has suggested that this effect also applies in the context of the prison, at least in the United States. Studies have suggested, perhaps counter-intuitively, that order within a given prison institution does to a certain degree rely on the willing adherence of inmates; prisoners are rarely co-erced to abide by prison regulations purely through instrumental means. It has been suggested that rates of violence in prisons in the US are affected by factors related to procedural justice to a small, but statistically significant degree. Violent incidents in prison have the potential for long-term serious consequences for perpetrators, victims, inmates, employees as well as family members, so that a small reduction in rates of violence could have a large positive impact on the community.

Little research has been conducted into procedural justice in prison in the Australian context. This project will examine the policies and procedures of Australian prisons in terms of the procedural justice framework. How do the policies and procedures of various institutions rate in terms of procedural justice theory? More specifically, through a comparative analysis of various institutions, the project will seek to investigate whether there is any link between complaint and dispute resolution processes in prison and the rates of violence in the institutions. It is hoped the results of the research will provide some evidence-based guidance for the development of prison policy in ways that may reduce the levels of violence in a given institution.

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