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Why Justice is unresponsive to crime: The Case of Cocaine in Colombia


  • Juán Carlos Echeverry
  • Zeinab Partow


In recent years, over ninety percent of all crimes in Colombia have gone unpunished. This paper addresses the reasons for this extreme unresponsiveness of the country's judicial system to high rates of violence, in particular since the end of the seventies when drug trafficking bacame a major source of crime. A model of justice provision is presented where the reaction of authorities to shocks in the level of violence is analyzed within a framework of decentralized police and judicial decision-making, alone the lines of Lucas (1973, 1976). Namely, law provision is performed at the regional level, with the response of authorities depending crucially on their perceptions regarding the origins of violence. To the extent that the causes of violence are systematically perceived as originating beyond local boundaries, the response to the violence shock at the regional level will vanish over time. This in thurn implies that the total provision of justicie in the country will be lower. We clain that this explanation describes the Colombian experience over the past fifteen years in two senses. First, regions within the country have considered the emergence of cocaine traffic to be an extra-regional phenomenon. Second, the country as a whole has also perceived it to be an international problem. Both of these aspects have led to an under-provision of justicie in Colombia.

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  • Juán Carlos Echeverry & Zeinab Partow, 1998. "Why Justice is unresponsive to crime: The Case of Cocaine in Colombia," Borradores de Economia 087, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdr:borrec:087

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-334, June.
    2. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Esteban Posada, 1998. "Los mercados de instituciones y las instituciones endogenas," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 48, pages 149-168, Enero Jun.
    2. Carlos Esteban Posada & Francisco González, 2000. "El gasto en defensa, justicia y seguridad," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 2(2), pages 53-75, January-J.
    3. Adriana Camacho & Alejandro Gaviria & Catherine Rodríguez, 2016. "Drug Consumption in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015238, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    4. Juan Carlos Echeverry, 2009. "Lessons from Colombian Economic Development," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005541, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. Adriana Camacho & Alejandro Gaviria & Catherine Rodríguez, 2010. "El consumo de droga en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 007607, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

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