Judicial Errors, Crime Deterrence and Appeals: Evidence from U.S. Federal Courts
60 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016 Last revised: 5 Dec 2018
Date Written: December 4, 2018
This paper investigates how different outcomes of criminal appeals impact crime deterrence. My panel data analysis (1997-2013) indicates that crime rates decrease when convictions are affirmed by the appellate court, as long as conviction rates are not too high. Crime rates are further found to decrease when convictions are reversed but increase when cases are remanded back to the district courts. The findings imply that judicial errors are detrimental to deterrence, while their review on appeal is Janus-headed: reversals provide remedy whereas remands are counter-productive. I therefore offer ways to overcome the negative effects of remands, conditional on potential problem sources: uncorrected errors, discounting of sanctions and cost asymmetry between guilty and innocent defendants..
Keywords: Judicial errors, Adjudication errors, Crime rates, Crime deterrence, Appeals, Courts, Wrongful Convictions
JEL Classification: K4, C33, C36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation