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

17 September 2019, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


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.


informal institutions
police/order agencies


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