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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

Itai Ater

Tel Aviv University - The Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration

Yehonatan Givati

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law; George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Oren Rigbi

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Date Written: July 15, 2016

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Ater, Itai and Givati, Yehonatan and Rigbi, Oren, The Economics of Rights: Does the Right to Counsel Increase Crime? (July 15, 2016). American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9(2): 1-27 (2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2810046

Itai Ater

Tel Aviv University - The Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration ( email )

P.O. Box 39010
Ramat Aviv Tel Aviv 69972, 69978
Israel

Yehonatan Givati (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Jerusalem
Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Oren Rigbi

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

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