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Self-Legitimacy, Organisational Commitment and Commitment to Fair Treatment of Prisoners: An Empirical Study of Prison Officers in Slovenia

In: European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
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  • 1 Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Kotnikova 8, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • | 2 Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge cb3 9da, uk
  • | 3 School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Avenue, 467 Stratton, Richmond, ky 40475, usa
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Recent work on legitimacy within criminal justice systems have drawn attention to self-legitimacy; that is, criminal justice professionals’ own recognition of their entitlement to power. The evidence on this aspect of legitimacy remains sparse and mainly from police studies. We know almost nothing about the self-legitimacy of prison officers. This paper contributes to filling this gap, with an empirical focus on prison officers in Slovenia. Specifically, it explores the correlates of officer self-legitimacy and the implications of self-legitimacy for commitments to the rights of prisoners and to the organisation. Results from multiple regression analyses show that quality of interpersonal relationships among officers, perceived audience legitimacy (that is, officers’ sense of their moral standing among prisoners), and distributive justice predicted self-legitimacy. Self-legitimacy was associated with increased commitment to fair treatment of prisoners but it was irrelevant to organisational commitment. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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