Empirical Puzzles of International Criminal Justice

I’m very excited about the current project I’m working on with fellow GMU student Diana Weinert. We are in the process of data to take stabs at some very interesting questions concerning the international use of prisons and criminal justice.
One of the two papers we’re working on, I hope to use for the third section of my dissertation. To what extent do state sponsored criminal justice systems suffer from rent-seeking and capture? We’re using prison populations, police expenditures, and populations for legislatures and judiciaries to develop proxies for the size of the corresponding criminal justice institutions in various countries. These are the underlying institutional variables that induce outcomes of two kinds.
Our intuition is that countries with larger criminal justice systems are correlated with larger state power, taxes, regulation, and the other complementary institutions of criminal justice. But size doesn’t always matter. Big institutions for criminal justice doesn’t necessarily mean quality institutions. We then look at the correlations between those foundational institutions and the actual social phenomenon they are claimed to promote: peace, prosperity, property rights, etc. Looking at a first few runs of correlations it looks like the relationships between big prisons, police forces, judges, and law makers are not negatively related to crime rates and functioning property rights but weekly related at best.
The data implies that larger criminal justice institutions are more correlated with large states than they are correlated with low crime rates.

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