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Judges' Approach Can Generate Positive Attitudes Towards Compliance With the Laws

Victoria Pratt, a judge in New Jersey, was invited as a speaker at Ted Talks to talk about how improving people’s court experience increases compliance with the law and court orders.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano

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Pratt is a widely known advocate who has worked in various locations such as Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, and England. She is an expert in the field of procedural justice. It is worth mentioning that her story has been narrated in The Guardian newspaper, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, Rutgers Magazine, and National Public’s Radio WBGO Conversations with Allan Wolper. She is also a Professor at Rudgers Law School in Newark, where she teaches Problem Solving and Restorative Justice.

Victoria Pratt considers it essential for judges to treat people with dignity and respect and this is why, she promotes the principles of procedural justice, by exposing four simple steps that make people trust in the system and want to abide by the law. The Woman Post summarized the principles that judges should follow to create an environment of justice and compliance with the law.

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1. Give People an Opportunity To Speak

This gives people a chance to introspect and find answers and explanations. It also enables individuals to go beyond their criminal record and share their life experiences.

2. Neutrality

When trying to increase the trust of people in the justice system, judges must remain neutral and avoid any language that indicates that they might be taking sides or favoring one part.

3. Understand

Pratt claims that the legal language can sometimes be perceived as unclear or confusing. This is why judges should always make an effort to speak plain English, considering that people might sometimes be foreigners or have very little education. Everyone needs to understand the questions that are being asked so they can provide useful information for decisions that are to be made by the court.

4. Respect

Last but not least, respect is the most important principle since the others won’t work in its absence. Respect translates into proper saluting and looking at people in the eyes, especially those who are being sentenced. It is contagious, so if individuals feel respected, they will show the same respect for the judges. According to Pratt, respect helps the courts reset their relationship with the community.

Victoria Pratt adds up all of these principles of procedural justice to dream of a revolution where judges will use these tools to learn to treat people with dignity and respect, projecting an image that justice will be served and making people want to comply with the law and with court orders.