The Coproduction of Justice

Coproduction offers an analytical lens for exploring possible criminogenic consequences of mass incarceration. While incarceration is intendeed to reduce crime, some scholars have highlighted how incarceration can have unintended consequences that promote crime. If mass incarceration impedes the coproduction process, this may create criminogenic consequences. 

How does mass incarceration impact the coproduction process? Mass incarceration may create a scenario where some individuals feel that they cannot trust the criminal justice system. When marginalized communities are torn apart by mass incarceration, residents may see police as adversaries rather than protectors. As a result, they may adopt norms that discourage calling the police, reporting crimes, or testifying in court. Such anti-snitching norms may impede citizen coproduction. While this empirical claim is difficult to assess, this chapter examines the literature on coproduction, mass incarceration, and anti-snitching norms to establish groundwork for future research on such claims. If mass incarceration impedes coproduction, then it may be counterproductive to its stated aims of reducing crime and improving public safety. The costs of reduced coproduction should be understood and weighed against the deterrence and incapacitation benefits that mass incarceration produces. 

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