Understanding Corruption in Criminal Justice as a Robust and Resilient System

By Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Diana Chigas

Corruption in its many forms undermines the very purpose of citizen security and justice institutions, as the protectors and arbiters of fairness have become predators; for sale to the highest bidder. The actors within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) no longer remain above the fray ensuring the rules of the game, but are now players in the mix. In these contexts, the ‘rule of law’ is replaced by that of wealth, power, and influence. Traditional forms of responding to corruption, on their own, are not effective in combatting corruption in the CJS in fragile states. Part of the problem is that CJS anti-corruption programming is developed from ill-suited analytic approaches that narrow and limit responses. It was in response to these challenges that the Central Africa Accountable Service Delivery Initiative (CAASDI) and the Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program set out to develop a new way of analyzing corruption in the CJS. Informed by systems-thinking, the analytic process explores the factors that generate the patterns of behavior known as corruption. As importantly, the process seeks to understand how those factors relate to each other so that strategic leverage points can be identified that could diminish corruption in the CJS.

This paper seeks to contribute to the field of criminal justice reform by sharing a systems-based analytic process to understand corruption in the CJS in fragile states. It explains what was done; why; the benefits and, of course, draw-backs of this process; as well as the lessons learnt.

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