Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Community Surveys: Determining Public Perceptions of Courts

This summer researchers from the Center for Court Innovation and thirteen surveyors, all residents of Newark, fanned out across the City to ask Newarkers what they think about issues in their neighborhoods and their views on the police and courts.  Researchers worked with the community members to identify the best places to conduct the surveys and they briefed the commanding officers of Newark’s Police precincts before setting out. The surveys were conducted, over six days,  at multiple public locations throughout Newark (e.g., parks, in or near housing complexes, shopping areas, churches, libraries and universities). The results will be shared in a report and at an upcoming NCS Community Advisory Board Meeting later this year.

A 2007 study by the Center for Court Innovation, which explored similar questions, reported several interesting findings. 

·      A random sample of New York residents express high levels of trust a
nd confidence in the courts in general but racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans, are far less supportive of the courts than whites.
·      Perceived fairness of court procedures and outcomes are, by far, the most important factors predicting overall approval of New York courts.
·      Although, local courts receive relatively strong ratings in terms of procedural fairness. The public is less positive in its evaluation of the results of case outcomes and the treatment of certain subgroups.

·      Many New Yorkers have negative perceptions about the relationship between courts and communities, and these perceptions influence views about judicial fairness—and hence approval of the courts overall.

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