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The verdict is in: the impact of crime on public trust in Central American justice systems

El impacto de delincuencia sobre la confianza pública en el sistema de justicia en Centroamérica
Gerichtsurteile: der Einfluss von Kriminalität auf das öffentliche Vertrauen in zentralamerikanische Rechtssysteme
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Malone, Mary Fran T.

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Abstract Over the past two decades, the countries of Central America have confronted soaring crime rates. Justice systems of dubious quality provide thin shields against this crime crisis, despite substantial international and domestic investment in justice reform. Indeed, there is growing concern that crime will undermine justice reform efforts. Scholars and practitioners have pointed out that public frustration with crime, coupled with dissatisfaction with justice institutions, can lead citizens to reject reform efforts. Still, the micro-level relationships between crime and public support of the justice system have been understudied. Using public opinion data from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), this study aims to add to the literature by examining the effects of victimization and fear of crime on public trust in the justice system. The results indicate that crime can erode public support for the justice system, but the mechanics of this relationship vary according to national context.

Durante las últimas dos décadas, los países de América Central se ven enfrentados con altos niveles de delincuencia. La capacidad de los gobiernos para contrarrestar esta crisis es comprometida por las debilidades severas de los sistemas de justicia, a pesar de la inversión internacional y domestica en reformas de la justicia. De hecho, existe la preocupación que la delincuencia frustrará los esfuerzos de reforma judicial. Gente cansada de altos niveles de delincuencia y frustrada con las instituciones de justicia puede rechazar esfuerzos de reforma. No obstante, las relaciones individuales entre delincuencia y apoyo público para el sistema de justicia no han sido estudiadas de forma suficiente. Por lo cual, este estudio usa los datos del Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) para examinar las reacciones públicas a la delincuencia. Los resultados indican que la delincuencia puede erosionar el apoyo para el sistema de justicia, pero los mecanismos de esta relación dependen del contexto nacional.
Keywords criminality; judgment or sentence; confidence; Central America; anxiety; public opinion; attitude; political attitude; domestic security; victimization; legal order; Latin America; developing country
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Law
Method empirical; quantitative empirical
Free Keywords Political Science; Central America; Trust; Judiciary/ judiciary powers; Crimes; Perceptions of threat (society); Judiciary reform; Ciencia Política; América Central; Confianza; Sistema judicial/ poder judicial; crímenes; Percepción de amenaza (sociedad); Reforma judicial; recent; public opinion data; reciente
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 99-128
Journal Journal of Politics in Latin America, 2 (2010) 3
ISSN 1868-4890
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works