The Economics of Rights: Does the Right to Counsel Increase Crime?
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9(2): 1-27 (2017)
32 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2016 Last revised: 21 Jun 2017
Date Written: July 15, 2016
We examine the broad consequences of the right to counsel by exploiting a legal reform in Israel that extended the right to publicly provided legal counsel to suspects in arrest proceedings. Using the staggered regional rollout of the reform, we find that the reform reduced arrest duration and the likelihood of arrestees being charged. We also find that the reform reduced the number of arrests made by the police. Lastly, we find that the reform increased crime. These findings indicate that the right to counsel improves suspects' situation, but discourages the police from making arrests, which results in higher crime.
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