Prosecutorial Reform and Local Crime Rates

26 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2021

See all articles by Amanda Agan

Amanda Agan

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics

Jennifer L. Doleac

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics

Anna Harvey

New York University Department of Politics

Date Written: October 29, 2021

Abstract

Many communities across the United States have elected reform-minded, progressive prosecutors who seek to reduce the reach and burden of the criminal justice system. Such prosecutors have implemented reforms such as scaling back the prosecution of nonviolent misdemeanors, diverting defendants to treatment programs instead of punishment, and recommending against cash bail for defendants who might otherwise be detained pretrial. Such policies are controversial, and many worry that they could increase crime by reducing deterrent and incapacitation effects. In this paper we use variation in the timing of when these prosecutors took office, across 35 jurisdictions, to measure the effect of their policies on reported crime rates. While our estimates are imprecisely estimated, we find no significant effects of these reforms on local crime rates.

Keywords: prosecutors, crime, criminal justice reform

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Agan, Amanda and Doleac, Jennifer L. and Harvey, Anna, Prosecutorial Reform and Local Crime Rates (October 29, 2021). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 21-31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3952764 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3952764

Amanda Agan

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics ( email )

New Brunswick, NJ
United States

Jennifer L. Doleac (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jenniferdoleac.com/

Anna Harvey

New York University Department of Politics ( email )

19 W. 4th St.
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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