Social context of crime control: a time-series analysis of the Korean case, 1973–2002

Joo, Hee-Jong; Yoon, Ok-Kyung
December 2008
Crime, Law & Social Change;Dec2008, Vol. 50 Issue 4-5, p375
Academic Journal
Regardless of recent attempts to explain crime control in relation to its social structural conditions, few studies have assessed the economic, organizational, and political context of crime control simultaneously. This study integrated these three contexts into a single project to test the relevance of social structural explanations on major crime control practices over the past three decades in South Korea. By using a variety of official statistics, time-series regressions were used. The level of crime consistently explained most variation in the arrest rates for all four categories of crimes. Prosecutions also seemed to be closely responsive to the level of crime. However, the link between crime and incarceration rates was not found for all categories of crimes. This finding indicates that levels of incarceration could be determined by external factors such as the economic conditions, organizational capacity, and political climates. In addition, economic conditions, which were measured by the unemployment rate, appeared to have a strong relationship to all crime control practices; it was positively and statistically significant for arrest, prosecution and incarceration rates. Political repression was inversely related to all three practices. However, organizational capacity only seemed to affect incarceration rates. Failure or inconsistencies of some of the social contexts in explaining crime control practice in South Korea can be assessed in both methodological and substantive grounds. This underscores the need to develop more solid theoretical arguments and empirical measures for their roles in crime control.


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