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The Rise of Citizen Security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. The problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations accounting for the steady increases in crime and victimisation across the region. In addition to jarring inequality and chronic impunity, a major part of the problem stems from repressive and punitive approaches to tackling criminality. More positively, a new generation of home grown ‘citizen security’ measures has emerged in recent decades. These interventions expand the focus of public security measures from a narrow preoccupation with safeguarding state institutions to encompass a wider concern with preserving the safety and rights of citizens. Taken together, they include strategies to reform law enforcement, criminal justice, and penal systems together with violence prevention activities focused on at-risk families and youth. While hard scientific evidence of their effectiveness is still in short supply, citizen security represents a positive evolution of thinking in an otherwise staunchly conservative domain.

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