Community Policing and Procedural Justice in Jail Settings

Project Summary

Recent evidence has established the importance of procedural justice in police contacts with the community and the important role of community-oriented policing (COP) in creating perceptions of fair and effective policing. However, the key components of COP have not heretofore been examined as also relevant in jail settings. Yet, jails are communities in themselves by definition (a group of people who live together). COP is based upon a philosophy of shared responsibility for safe communities and the importance of community engagement and problem solving. In jails, it is clear that jail management and inmate programming involve core COP components and activities, and that there is an emphasis on procedural justice. In jails, re-entry programming begins on day one, given the short time most individuals spend in local jails (nationwide average is approximately 25 days). Sheriffs and jail administrators know that inmate programming is important for maintaining order, as well as reducing recidivism, substance use, mental health symptoms, and successful re-integration in communities. In this project, we identify a range of innovations consistent with the framework of COP, and principles of procedural justice.



This project involves the development of a comprehensive Jails Toolkit that will consist of tools derived from national focus groups, a survey of National Sheriffs’ Association members, and in-depth case studies to identify some innovative featured programs. These tools and reports provide information on existing challenges, how they have been addressed, and unique strategies being shared by some select sheriffs and/or jail administrators. The project team is led by Karen L. Amendola, PhD, Chief Behavioral Scientist (National Police Foundation), Carrie Hill, Esq., National Jails Advisor (National Sheriffs’ Association and current Executive Director of the MA Sheriffs’ Association), Maria Valdovinos Olson, MA, Senior Research Associate (National Police Foundation), and Ben Gorban, Senior Project Associate (National Police Foundation).



It is anticipated that sheriffs and other jail leaders will benefit from the shared information from their peers in being able to compare their current approaches and draw from a range of unique strategies employed by others. We have found that sheriffs have been implementing practices and programs that are consistent with core components of community policing and procedural justice for some time. While such approaches have not previously been classified as COP in jails, community-based programming is a commonly used term in jail settings, which similarly emphasizes the importance of their internal and external communities. In either case, it is clear that the principles and core components of COP are central to jail management and programming



This project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.


Point of Contact

Karen L. Amendola, Ph.D.
Chief Behavioral Scientist
National Police Foundation
202) 721-9780 Ext. 180



procedural justice, jails toolkit, community policing in jails, jail survey