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Impact of a Judicial System Reform on Police Behavior: Evidence on Juvenile Crime in Colombia

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  • Ana María Ibáñez

    ()

  • Amy Ritterbusch

    ()

  • Catherine Rodríguez

    ()

Abstract

This paper uses a natural experiment to identify the impact of a judicial system reform on police behavior. The study finds that, after a decrease in the severity of judicial punishment imposed on Colombian adolescents, arrest rates for adolescents in most misdemeanor crimes decreased due to a change in police behavior. The magnitude of this effect ranged between 0.08 to 0.321 standard deviations. The uncertainty on how to operate the new system, the lack of training, and the potential disciplinary sanctions led police officials to reduce arrest rates. Nonetheless, police forces learned gradually how to operate within the new system and adjusted their operations, countervailing the initial negative impact on arrest rates. We present suggestive evidence that the reduction in arrest rates and the lower sanctions increased crime incidents in cities with a large proportion of adolescents in their population. Qualitative evidence collected in focus groups with police officials supports the principal quantitative findings and contextualize the obstacles that led to the decrease in arrest rates and the perceived increase of juvenile crime based on the officials’ experiences in the streets.

Suggested Citation

  • Ana María Ibáñez & Amy Ritterbusch & Catherine Rodríguez, 2017. "Impact of a Judicial System Reform on Police Behavior: Evidence on Juvenile Crime in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 015428, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:015428
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    File URL: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/publicaciones/dcede2017-17.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Heaton, 2010. "Understanding the Effects of Antiprofiling Policies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 29-64, February.
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    3. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    4. Abhijit Banerjee & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Daniel Keniston & Nina Singh, 2012. "Improving Police Performance in Rajasthan, India: Experimental Evidence on Incentives, Managerial Autonomy and Training," NBER Working Papers 17912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Klick, Jonathan & Tabarrok, Alexander, 2005. "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 267-279, April.
    6. Alexandre Mas, 2006. "Pay, Reference Points, and Police Performance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 783-821.
    7. Daniel S. Nagin, 2013. "Deterrence: A Review of the Evidence by a Criminologist for Economists," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 83-105, May.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Behavior; police officers; crime;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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