The Effect of District Attorneys on Local Criminal Justice Outcomes
67 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 3, 2019
In 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 18-21% increase in new prison admissions in the two years following their election, while a nonwhite district attorney leads to a 10% decline. In both cases, there are no significant effects on local crime or arrest rates. 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