The Unintended Consequences of the U.S. Adversarial Model in Latin American Crime

70 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020

See all articles by Angela Zorro Medina

Angela Zorro Medina

University of Chicago - Department of Sociology

Camilo Acosta

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF)

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 10, 2020

Abstract

During the 1990s, Latin America experienced a criminal procedural revolution (LACPR) when approximately 70% of its countries abandoned their inquisitorial system and adopted the U.S. adversarial model. Following the LACPR, the region experienced a dramatic increase in crime, consolidating it as one of the most violent areas in the world. Despite previous empirical evidence indicating that procedural law affects criminal behavior, the effects of the LACPR continue highly unexplored. In this paper, we use the Latin American case to evaluate the impact of an adversarial reform on crime rates. Exploiting the quasi-experimental implementation of the reform in Colombia, we use an event study approach combined with differences-in-differences to estimate the reform’s effects on criminal activity. Despite the opposite incentives the reform created, we find an increase associated with the procedural transformation in overall crime rates (22%), violent crime (15%), and property crime (8%). We also observe a dramatic decrease in drug offenses associated with lower arrest rates. Our findings contribute to the literature on Latin American crime and the link between procedural law and criminal behavior.

Keywords: criminal procedural revolution, plea bargaining, certainty, severity, celerity.

JEL Classification: K14, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Zorro Medina, Angela and Acosta Mejia, Camilo and Mejia, Daniel, The Unintended Consequences of the U.S. Adversarial Model in Latin American Crime (September 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3690462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3690462

Angela Zorro Medina (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Sociology ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Camilo Acosta Mejia

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF) ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Medellin
Colombia

Daniel Mejia

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

Carrera 1 No. 18 A - 10
Bogotá, AA4976
Colombia
57(1)3394949 ext 3737 (Phone)
57(1)3324492 (Fax)

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