The Effect of State Wiretapping Legislation on Law Enforcement Productivity
30 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 15 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 15, 2019
Nineteen states relaxed their state wiretapping statutes following the 9/11 terror attacks. It later turned out that law-enforcement agencies took advantage of the relaxed wiretap provisions to primarily investigate drug crimes. We show that such law changes can theoretically decrease or increase crime detection as well as underlying crime counts. Using data from the U.S. Courts' Wiretap Reports, we find that the state law changes increased prosecutorial productivity in terms of producing arrests and convictions from state wiretap operations, in support of the law change increasing crime detection and decreasing crime counts.
Keywords: Wiretap surveillance; criminal justice; drug crime
JEL Classification: K14, K42, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation