CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Miller on Criminal Groups and the Rule of Law

Andrew Cesare Miller (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science) has posted Promoting the Rule of Law in Communities with Criminal Groups: Experimental Evidence from Lagos, Nigeria on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
How can the state promote the rule of law in communities with criminal groups? Criminal groups often engage in bloody turf battles with quasi-impunity, undermining the state's monopoly on violence. The state struggles to contain criminal violence partly given to a lack of police-citizen cooperation. Moving beyond theories that explain limited cooperation as exclusively a function of police illegitimacy, I argue that social psychological constraints prevent citizens from sharing information with the police. Criminal groups inflate citizens' judgements of retaliation risk and create misperceptions among citizens that few other community members support sharing information. I test strategies for overcoming these constraints in Lagos, Nigeria with the first large-scale survey experiment incorporating virtual reality. Witnesses share 17% more information when a tip line is made anonymous. They share 9% more information after becoming aware of others cooperating. Exposing witnesses to co-ethnic police officers also increases information-sharing by 15% but only for those that ex-ante trust the police.

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