The Effect of District Attorneys on Local Criminal Justice Outcomes
62 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2018 Last revised: 11 May 2020
Date Written: January 3, 2019
n the United States, elected district attorneys' offices prosecute over 85% of all felony cases, but we know little about their effect on local criminal justice outcomes. Using a newly-collected dataset of district attorney elections, I show that the a Republican district attorney leads to a 6-8% increase in new prison admissions and new sentenced months per capita in the four years following their election. Effects are disproportionately driven by changes in incarceration for drug offenses. These results show that the identity of local district attorneys is an important determinant of incarceration rates.
Keywords: law enforcement; district attorneys; law and economics; mass incarceration
JEL Classification: H7; K1; K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation