Comparative Politics

The Metastasis of Torture: How Torture Develops In Law Enforcement Agencies In Democracies


Most recent research on legal establishment of torture through informal institu- tions has concentrated on its appearance as a national policy. What has not been as extensively examined, however: is the use of torture, again justified by informal in- stitutions, to domestic law enforcement agencies. This paper will present a beginning study of this phenomena. I will suggest a model for how informal institutions allowing the appearance of torture can become established and an hypothesis derived from it. I will then use process tracing to analyze the development of torture within the Chicago Police Department and a counterfactual case, the absence of tortuous interrogations in the Boston Police Department. Together, these cases provide a preliminary test of the model. I will conclude with a discussion of what has been learned and some speculations on how the use of torture by domestic law enforcement agencies might be prevented.


Thumbnail image of APSA Paper 22 Jul 19 .pdf


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