November 1, 2012

Sassywood

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Find the paper at ScienceDirect.

This paper analyzes trial by poison ingestion, or “sassywood,” as an institution of criminal justice in contemporary Liberia. The authors argue that effective criminal justice institutions must satisfy three conditions: they must be accessible to citizens, incentivize judicial administrators to pursue justice instead of private ends, and generate useful information about accused criminals’ guilt or innocence. Liberia’s formal criminal justice institutions fail to satisfy these conditions. Sassywood does a better job of fulfilling them.