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

55 Pages Posted: 7 May 2009 Last revised: 29 Sep 2009

Michael Frakes

Duke University School of Law

Matthew C. Harding

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: death penalty, deterrence, capital punishment

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1400670 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1400670

Michael Frakes (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
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)

Paper statistics

Downloads
177
Rank
140,561
Abstract Views
1,849