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 policing (COP) in creating perceptions of fair and effective policing. However, the key components of COP have not heretofore been applied to jail settings. Yet, jails are communities in that they are made up of a group of people who live together. Community policing philosophy is based in shared responsibility for safe communities and the important engagement of community in problem solving.  In jails, it is suggested that many current activities involve the basic tenets of community policing, and that jails are moving toward a greater degree of procedural justice for both detention personnel and inmates. Moreover, due to the important role of rehabilitation and reentry among jail inmates, it is purported that a range of innovations consistent with the community policing framework would allow inmates to better assimilate upon reentry and become better community residents, who would recidivate at a lower rate if successful.



This project involves the creation of a multi-part Jails Toolkit that will consist of tools developed from information derived from the national focus groups,  a survey of National Sheriffs’ Association members, and case studies to share existing challenges, how they have been addressed, unique community-based strategies for minimizing jail problems and promoting successful re-entry. 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. It is also anticipated that sheriffs have gone a long way toward building upon the principles of COP for use in jail settings, recognizing the importance of their internal and external communities. 



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



procedural justice, Jails Toolkit, community policing in jails, jail survey