Great Expectations? Democratic Transformation and Criminal Justice

Diana R. Gordon, City University of New York

One of the great virtues of liberal democracy is its relative stability, which can be sustained only by commitment to the rule of law and the institutions that carry it out. Reliance on police and courts, however, risks distancing governance from the governed in ways that defeat the core aims of democracy, especially in societies that have only recently embraced it. This dilemma is fundamental to the question of how much can be expected of criminal justice systems in countries making the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. This paper will present a sequential model for contributions that criminal justice institutions can make to deepening democracy in transitional countries. While several countries will be discussed, the primary focus will be on post-apartheid South Africa.

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Updated 05/20/2006