What Do Prosecutors Maximize? an Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction

38 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2000 Last revised: 9 Oct 2010

See all articles by Edward L. Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daniel P. Kessler

Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Anne Morrison Piehl

Rutgers University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 1998

Abstract

This paper presents a model of prosecutors' decision-making processes in which prosecutors (both federal and state) internalize some of the benefits of reducing crime, but also care about developing their own human capital. Since U.S. attorneys make their decision first, they have the opportunity to take the cases that will further their human capital development, knowing that the local district attorneys will handle the other cases. Using two surveys on prison admissions, we find that defendants who are better educated, richer, married, white, have higher-paying occupations more likely to be incarcerated in the federal system. Conversely, state prisons are more likely to incarcerate individuals who are particularly likely to be difficult prisoners, despite the supposed advantages of federal prisons in dealing with the most dangerous criminals.

Suggested Citation

Glaeser, Edward L. and Kessler, Daniel Philip and Piehl, Anne Morrison, What Do Prosecutors Maximize? an Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction (June 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6602. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226325

Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

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Anne Morrison Piehl

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