What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of the Federalization of Drug Crimes
45 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2000
Date Written: December 1998 (revised November 1999)
Recent legislation has expanded the jurisdiction of the federal government over crimes that were traditionally prohibited only by state law. We model the decision-making process of state and federal prosecutors, and the determinants of prosecutors' decisions to allocate drug cases to the state versus the federal systems. Using 1991 surveys of state and federal inmates incarcerated for drug crimes, we find that individuals who hire private attorneys and who are high human capital and successful in the legitimate sector are more likely to end up in the federal system. This is consistent with the model in which prosecutors maximize both the payoffs from eliminating crime and their private human capital.
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