Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1400670
 
 

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The Deterrent Effect of Death Penalty Eligibility: Evidence from the Adoption of Child Murder Eligibility Factors


Michael Frakes


Northwestern University - School of Law

Matthew C. Harding


Stanford University - Department of Economics

September 24, 2009


Abstract:     
We draw on within-state variations in the reach of capital punishment statutes between 1977 and 2004 to identify the deterrent effects associated with capital eligibility. Focusing on the most prevalent eligibility expansion, we estimate that the adoption of a child murder factor is associated with an approximately 20% reduction in the homicide rate of youth victims. Eligibility expansions may enhance deterrence by (1) paving the way for more executions and (2) providing prosecutors with greater leverage to secure enhanced non-capital sentences. While executions themselves are rare, this latter channel is likely to be triggered fairly regularly, providing a reasonable basis for a general deterrent response.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 55

Keywords: death penalty, deterrence, capital punishment

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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Date posted: May 7, 2009 ; Last revised: September 29, 2009

Suggested Citation

Frakes, Michael and Harding, Matthew C., The Deterrent Effect of Death Penalty Eligibility: Evidence from the Adoption of Child Murder Eligibility Factors (September 24, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1400670 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1400670

Contact Information

Michael Frakes (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
Matthew C. Harding
Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )
Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-723-4116 (Phone)
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