Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention

Report Author

Justin R. Corbett

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Table of Contents

Mechanism of Impact

Procedural Palliation

Procedural palliation is the easing of conflict-induced criminalism through the use of procedures that are perceived as and legitimated by their contextual responsiveness, expressiveness, and fairness.

Whereas annexated endearment destigmatizes justice institutions in the minds of service recipients, in part, through their purposeful integration of procedural justice considerations and referral schemes, the palliative character of those resulting procedures can itself serve to reduce the probability of criminal activity concomitant with or even regardless of institutional contact. For example, the well- established394 justice-legitimacy-cooperation framework places perceptions of procedural justice at the cradle of citizen cooperation, constructive police-citizen relations, and compliance with the law.395

Extra-systemic contexts of procedural palliation offer even greater demonstrations of its method and measure. For example, mediation and restorative interventions regularly outperform their institutional correlates on measures of the public perception of procedural justice.396 Their use of contextually responsive and expressive- friendly procedures that reliably de-escalate and resolve even the most intense conflicts serves to minimize the subjective need for escalatory or retaliatory – criminal – actions. Even in contexts where these interventions do not resolve the presenting conflict, the opportunities to avoid justice system contact,397 experience hedonic fairness,398 demonstrate expressive voice, hear a structured presentation of others’ interests, and absorb facilitators’ intra-session modeling of constructive engagement techniques can all serve to reduce the probability of future criminal escalations. Though these procedural qualities are rare within the criminal justice system, their preventive influence affirms the worth of further distributing these characteristics both within and beyond that sphere.


394. Tyler, T.R. (2003).

395. Securing cooperation, constructive relations and compliance from the public is maximized when perceptions of procedural fairness/justice are high in all areas of institutional interaction, including those with police (Mazerolle, L., et al., 2013), prosecutors (Cheng, K.K.-y., 2015), and criminal courts (Casper, J.D., Tyler, T., Fisher, B., 1988).

396. For a comparative review of findings on perceptions of procedural justice within mediation, arbitration, and traditional judicial settings, see: Shapiro, D.L., Brett, J.M. (1993) For “compelling evidence of the relationship between procedural justice and [restorative justice-focused diversionary conferences],” see: Barnes, G.C., et al. (2015).

397. For select categories of offenders, traditional criminal justice system interventions (i.e. police and prosecutorial contact) can actually increase the probability and severity of recidivism. For example, “for low- risk offenders, criminal justice system interventions should be minimised or even avoided, as such interventions may unintentionally increase the likelihood of reoffending” (Thompson, C., et al., 2014a; citing: Andrews, D., Dowden, C., 2006). Similarly, adult on-set offenders are more likely to reoffend if arrested, than if diverted to a local mediation or conflict coaching service. Acknowledging that, generally, early-onset offenders generate higher social and economic costs, while adult-onset offenders generate higher criminal justice system costs for their respective offending, vis-à-vis one another (Thompson, C., et al., 2014a), informed policies that divert adult, first-time offenders to service provider interventions can enhance City safety and savings.

398. Beyond the material advantageousness of fair processes and the jarring effect of unfairness, fairness preferencing is hedonically valued in its own right, activating the brain’s reward circuitry (Tabibnia, G., Satpute, A.B., Lieberman, M.D., 2008).