Sustainability and Social Justice

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Laurie Ross

Second Reader

Ellen Foley


Youth, particularly young men of color, exist in a vulnerable position in relation to law-enforcement in the Worcester community. Poor relationships between youth and police officers have an impact on the quality of their interactions, and contribute to the disproportionate number of young people arrested as a result of police contact. There were 313 incidents analyzed from the 2014 Worcester Police reports of juvenile arrests in order to better understand the quality and outcomes of the interactions. The data indicates that youths’ negative perceptions of officers’ procedural justice affects the demeanor of the youth towards the officer. Additionally, the demeanor of the youth affects the officers’ arrest decisions. It is found that the result of these two interrelated phenomenons is the incurrence of public order charges, which can be better understood as crimes of order against the police. Interventions such as police training should work to increase developmental competence in order to disrupt the cycle of escalation that drives the high level of ‘low-level’ crime in Worcester.





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