Work in progress
Violence and coercive policing: Dynamics and consequences of the overpolicing-underpolicing paradox in Brazil’s largest city
Author: Thiago R. Oliveira
See abstractAbstract: Residents of some neighborhoods often experience an overwhelming police presence that intrudes upon their lives, and yet feel unprotected by law enforcement agents who neglect safety provision, in a process named by the literature the overpolicing-underpolicing paradox. In the context of one of the largest cities in the Global South, this study provides a quantitative assessment of the dynamics and consequences of public expectations of overpolicing and underpolicing. Drawing upon a three-wave longitudinal survey representative of eight neighborhoods in São Paulo, Brazil, I demonstrate that perceptions of overpolicing and underpolicing (a) mutually reproduce each other over time, (b) share similar correlates, most notably related to exposure to structural disadvantage and aggressive police stops, (c) harm legitimacy judgements by sending negative relational messages of marginalization and neglect, and (d) contribute to increased levels of tolerance of violence via undermined legitimacy beliefs. This study provides further evidence that the demand for public safety in disadvantaged communities does not seem to be solved by policing strategies centered around the increase of coercive police presence, and highlights the relevance of investigating public-authority relations in understudied Global South settings.
Keywords: overpolicing-underpolicing paradox, legal cynicism, legitimacy, violence, Brazil
Manuscript available on SocArXiv.
Socialization through violence: Exposure to neighborhood and police violence and the developmental trajectories of legal legitimacy beliefs among adolescents in São Paulo
Authors: Thiago R. Oliveira, Jon Jackson, Renan Theodoro, Debora Piccirillo, & Rick Trinkner.
See abstractAbstract: We examine the role that exposure to neighborhood and police violence plays in the legal socialization of adolescents aged 11 to 14 years living in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. In a context of idiosyncratic and violent policing, where the state's ability to control crime is low, we assess the extent to which being exposed to neighborhood crime and violence (e.g., listening to gunshots and witnessing or hearing about citizens carrying guns, being robbed, or selling drugs), aggressive police behavior with violent undertones (e.g., certain forcible types of police stops and arrests), and/or outright violent police behavior (officers assaulting a member of the public) is associated with the development of adolescents’ judgements about the legitimacy of the law. Analyzing data from a cohort-based, four-wave longitudinal survey of 2005-born young people living in São Paulo from 2016 to 2019, we use growth curve models to estimate developmental trajectories of legitimacy beliefs. Results suggest that individual exposure to police violence is associated with the process of legal socialization and that, above and beyond this individual effect, adolescents attending schools where other students are exposed to neighborhood violence tend to develop more negative views about the legitimacy of legal authority over time.
Keywords: legal socialization, violence exposure, legitimacy of the law, police violence, Brazil
Manuscript available on SocArXiv.
Police misconduct and the cultural reproduction of legal cynicism and violence in Chicago neighborhoods
Authors: Thiago R. Oliveira & David S. Kirk.
See abstractAbstract: This study explores the ecology of police use-of-force and its consequences in terms of the reproduction of legal cynicism and criminal activity. Leveraging data from the Invisible Institute’s Citizens Police Data Project, the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods community survey, the Chicago Police Department, and the US Census, we examine the spatial and temporal associations between the number of complaints against police officers and the incidence of violent crime in Chicago neighborhoods between 1995 and 2015. We explore the mediating role of legal cynicism, a cultural frame produced by repeated exposure to abusive policing that can potentially foster criminal behavior. The empirical study has two parts. First, we use dynamic panel models with fixed effects and show that neighborhoods with more complaints about police use-of-force tend to have higher incidences of both violent and non-violent crime. Second, we conduct an ecological analysis and demonstrate that legal cynicism mediates this relationship, as police use-of-force produces legal cynicism, which in turn contributes to increase crime counts. We also estimate a mixed-effects location-scale model and show that the association between cynicism of the law and crime is moderated by the degree to which residents' views about the police are consensual or dissensual, with larger effect sizes in culturally heterogeneous neighborhoods. We conclude with some reflection about neighborhood processes and the consequences of police misconduct for people's relationship with the law and the legal institutions.
Keywords: police misconduct, legal cynicism, police use-of-force, neighborhood processes, violence
From an offender-based to an offense-based justice: Changes in sentencing patterns in the Brazilian juvenile justice system from 1990 to 2006
Authors: Thiago R. Oliveira, Marcos César Alvarez, & Bruna Gisi
Asked to revise and resubmit, Crime, Law and Social Change.
See abstractAbstract: Juvenile justice systems around the globe are increasingly more similar to criminal justice systems. In Brazil, previous legislations focused on the individuals themselves and did not distinguish between young offenders and children in precarious conditions, but a new legislation in 1990 marked a rupture and introduced elements of criminal law. We leverage a unique data set representative of every adolescent who has been through the juvenile justice system in the state of São Paulo between 1990 and 2006 and provide a quantitative assessment of the changes in sentencing patterns in the period. Results suggest that judges increasingly prioritise violent and drug-related offenses when convicting adolescent defendants, indicating that the Brazilian juvenile justice system progressively resembles the criminal justice rationale by emphasising the ideal of proportionality between crime and punishment. We conclude with a discussion on pendular justice, suggesting that juvenile justice in Brazil is moving from a positivist-inspired to a classic-inspire justice system.
Keywords: juvenile justice, sentencing, young offenders, criminological thought, Brazil