Crime and Justice Framing in an Era of Reform: How the Local Matters

Jamie J. Fader, Scott W. VanZant, Abigail R. Henson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent criminal justice reforms highlight the contested nature of crime problems and solutions. We draw on 45 months of participant observation in Philadelphia to examine how interpretive frames of crime and justice are co-constructed between citizens and public officials at community meetings, and how these drive meaningful enactment of local policy. We find that residents frame crime problems and solutions differently for drug sellers versus public order offenders, and attempt to protect the latter from the criminal justice system. Local officials make claims to insider status to convince community members to form partnerships. They often engage in responsibilization discourses, exhorting citizens to help themselves. Residents use community meetings to extract accountability from public agents and share resources for engaging non-justice agencies to address crime problems. The role of neighborhood associations deserves further study, particularly how to achieve sustained engagement of residents committed to addressing crime in their communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1139
Number of pages21
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 18 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Neighborhoods
  • community
  • interpretive frame
  • neighborhood associations
  • social construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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