This study compared the relationships between incarcerated youths’ perceptions of injustice in relation to their demographic variables and personal and vicarious experiences with the justice system.
The two injustice frameworks, Matza and Tyler, represent different academic traditions in ways that raise different prospects. Matza contextualizes his formulation of injustice in group processes that emphasize shared neutralization of regulating norms because of injustice. That emphasis is absent in Tyler. Tyler’s work has led to an invariance claim across demographics that is not postulated by Matza. The study analyzed data from the Faith and Community-Based Delinquency Treatment Initiative. It found nonwhite youths perceived more injustice as measured by both indexes. In a boys-only subsample, younger boys perceived more injustice measured by the Tyler index. Vicarious exposure via friends’ experiences with police related to higher perceived levels of injustice only on the Matza index. The authors encourage researchers to be precise in their operationalizations and measurement of injustice perceptions and to consider the theoretical grounding of their research in making injustice measurement choices. (Publisher abstract provided)