Emory International Law Review


Using a survey by the World Bank's Justice and Development Initiative, Kristina Lugo and Elizabeth Searing examine whether crime victims' choice of dispute resolution forum is more constrained by social factors, such as socioeconomic status, or by event-specific factors, such as direct economic loss from the crime itself. In Bangladesh's pluralist legal environment of competing traditional and state venues, neoinstitutionalist-inspired development strategies overlook important factors and strategies that improve access to justice for those most hurt by crime. This study finds that crime victims who suffer greater economic harm resulting directly from the crime, as well as victims of violent crime, tend to engage the state criminal justice system rather exclusively utilizing the traditional system. After a historical comparison seeking to identify possible omitted structural variables, Lugo and Searing highlight the need to consider crime-event-specific factors, not just social-level problems, when designing rule-of-law programs in developing countries.