Federal Consent Decrees: Do They Work?

Improving Police

Do federal consent decrees improve local police departments? This study says they might.

“Consent decrees are expensive, with costs estimated at $10 million or more… for new training and monitoring to reduce police misconduct. But in a cost-benefit analysis, the costs of retraining a police department may be less than the multimillion- dollar settlements paid out to families of those killed in police shootings.”


In part from The Washington Post, May 24, 2017

“Consent decrees are a tool the Justice Department and the courts use to reform departments seen as violating citizens’ civil rights through assorted police misconduct. [AG Jeff] Sessions wants to know whether federal intervention is really the most effective approach.

“But even before Sessions ordered his review last month, researchers at the University of Texas-Dallas had set out to answer the question empirically by looking at this:

  • Does a consent decree result in fewer civil rights lawsuits against…

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