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Criminal Justice Centre 2021/2022 Term 1 Events

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‘Reforming to Avoid Reform: Strategic Policy Substitution and the Reform Gap in Policing’ talk by Dr. Yanilda María González (Harvard Kennedy School)

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Location: Virtual Microsoft Teams

Dr. Yanilda María González (Harvard Kennedy School) will present her talk entitled 'Reforming to Avoid Reform: Strategic Policy Substitution and the Reform Gap in Policing'

Institutional reforms often diverge from substantive problems and societal demands that originally prompted reform, raising questions about democratic responsiveness. This paper introduces a theory of constrained institutional change to interrogate the mismatch between the locus of institutional deficiency and the locus of reform, focusing on strategic choices of politicians and police bureaucracies facing societal pressure for reform. While societal demands for reform often focus on extrajudicial violence and pervasive corruption, which are best addressed by structural and oversight measures, enacted reforms typically focus on marginal and operational measures best suited for improving societal trust and police performance. Drawing on evidence from Colombia and Brazil, I explain this reform gap through the concept of strategic policy substitution, through which police leverage their structural power to shape the content of reform rather than blocking reform altogether, negotiating with politicians to replace reforms that threaten bureaucratic autonomy with favorable reforms that preserve it.

Date: Wednesday 3rd November 2021

Venue: (virtual) MS Teams Joining Link -

Time: 13.00 – 14.00

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