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

36 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2017

See all articles by Ana M. Ibáñez

Ana M. Ibáñez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Amy Ritterbusch

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - School of Government

Catherine Rodriguez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 8, 2017

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.

Keywords: Behavior, police officers, crime

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Ibáñez, Ana María and Ritterbusch, Amy and Rodriguez, Catherine, Impact of a Judicial System Reform on Police Behavior: Evidence on Juvenile Crime in Colombia (March 8, 2017). Documento CEDE No. 2017-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2931146 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2931146

Ana María Ibáñez (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia
571 339 4949 Ext. 3634 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/~economia/html/profesores/profesores.php?modo=mostrar&id=145

Amy Ritterbusch

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - School of Government ( email )

Cra 1. No. 19 - 27. Bloque Aulas Tercer piso
Bogotá D.C.
Colombia

Catherine Rodriguez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

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