Identification and assessment of the level of criminal impunity
Name of Organization:
Type of Initiatives:
- Latin America and the Caribbean
The research consists of a sociological study of impunity. Criminal impunity is being measured for certain types of criminal offenses. The research follows cases within the different institutions of the criminal justice system in order to establish how and at what stage impunity or punishment is defined. This implies being able to isolate the circumstances, and factors that favor the selective distribution of punishment as well as their causes.
The main objectives of the research are:
to draw the profile of the types of criminal offenses selected - whether violent crimes or not - in the Municipality of São Paulo for the period 1987-1997 that have resulted in formal police investigation.
to draw the social and legal profile of the actors involved as they appear in the police investigations and in judicial processes.
to identify the paths followed by the cases as investigations are dropped or progress through the judicial path leading to either punishment or acquittal.
to measure the size of penal impunity as well as the causes of impunity.
The research universe encompasses five types of violent crimes (intentional homicide, rape, robbery and robbery followed by homicide, and drug trafficking) and two types of non-violent crimes (theft and drug use) that took place in São Paulo between the 1st of January 1991 and the 31st of December 1997.
The data collection is based on the follow-up institutional model. The research selects and tests variables searching for main effects on the judicial decision-making.
(publication in progress)
Source of Data:
Using other existing sources of data
Type of Data Collection:
Specifications of type of data collection:
The sample size is 4370 inquests and judicial processes.
The secondary sources are specialized literature:
- punishment and impunity
- human rights gross violations
- civil, political and social rights
- administration of justice
Measurement Methods / Tools Generated or Used :
Two data bases were generated in Access format:
Data from each 16 police precincts generated a data base with the police records: the initial police notice of a crime, the data on police inquiries, supplementary data about the cases forwarded from other police precincts. After the initial analysis sources were consolidated in two spreadsheets: one with all the information from the police notices and the second one with the information from the police inquiries.
The sample was drawn from 22.912 cases derived from 21.862 police inquiries from the police precincts and 1050-homicide police notice registered in the Department of homicide for the period between 1991 and 1997.
To estimate the sample the following assumptions were adopted:
we estimated that at most 5% of all cases would result in punishment regardless of the type of crime,
we adopted a sample variance of 10%, (c) confidence level of 95% and error margin of 3%.
The tools were designed to attend to the specificities of the Brazilian Penal Code; the judicial procedures; and the objectives of the research.
The data collection tools allows the researchers to compile information about the exact nature of the offense (to allow for precise comparisons), about time (to allow the measurement of judicial slowness), about legal procedures (due process), about access to legal support for those who were indicted (due process), and about the sentence (to measure adequacy/respect for the Penal Code).
A handbook was prepared for researchers on how to use the tools.