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Vigilante Homicides in Contemporary Ghana

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2005 Pages: 413-427
Mensah Adinkrah
Date Published
September 2005
15 pages
This study explored the nature of vigilante homicides that occurred in Ghana during 1990 to 2000.
Located on the West Coast of Africa, Ghana is a developing nation of approximately 19 million people. Ghana’s population is predominantly rural. In the past 5 years, Ghana has witnessed an upsurge in property offenses and violent crime. Prior research blamed rising crime rates on the influx of immigrants. This first empirical study was based on data collected in Ghana during the summer of 2002 and 2003, as well as part of 2004. Informal conversations were conducted on the theme of vigilante violence with seven Ghanaian academicians teaching sociology and criminal justice courses in United States universities. The conversations provided insight into vigilante violence in Ghana. Vigilante homicides occur under a myriad of circumstances, but all involve citizens taking the law into their hands to administer “instant justice” in response to suspected wrongdoings. The analysis also suggests that vigilante murders were more common in Ghanaian urban centers than in rural communities. Factors that contribute to the escalation of vigilantism in the society included an under-resourced police force, poor police-civilian relations, high crime rate, a slow and overburdened judiciary, increased public fear of crime, and a breakdown in traditional methods of dispute resolution. References