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Gender and mental health: An examination of procedural justice in a specialized court context


The procedural justice framework has been applied in the criminal justice contexts of policing, corrections, and courts. According to this perspective, fair treatment, respectful dialogue and being given a proper voice will contribute to citizens' positive views of authority figures. While this literature has grown immensely, several questions remain unanswered. Do males and females perceive similar levels of procedural justice? Does mental health status influence perceptions of fair treatment? Whether procedural justice is a general perspective that can be applied across social groupings has important implications for correctional treatment in that programs that truly “work” for all are more cost‐effective. Toward that end, the current study investigates the relationships among procedural justice perceptions, gender, and mental health status in specialized drug courts, a context that has received little empirical attention. We do so using secondary data originally collected between 2003 and 2009 for Rossman, Roman, Zweig, Rempel and Lindquist's Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE). Results from a full‐sample analysis reveal that women report higher levels of procedural justice; that drug court participation significantly influences procedural justice perceptions; and that depressive symptomology is a significant predictor of procedural justice perceptions. In male‐ and female‐specific subsamples, drug court participation exerts similar effects for males and females, as does depressive symptomology. Implications for theory, research, and practice are discussed.

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