Prosecutorial Discretion: A Theoretical and Experimental Investigation
29 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2023
Date Written: September 17, 2023
How does restricting prosecutorial discretion affect the criminal justice system? Many legal scholars have suggested that setting a minimum plea bargain can reduce the innocence problem (i.e., reduce the number of false convictions in the criminal justice system). We develop a novel model of the criminal justice system to address this suggestion. We show theoretically that setting a minimum plea bargain can both reduce the innocence problem and (slightly) reduce crime rates. We implement this model in a laboratory experiment and find that restricting prosecutorial discretion reduces the innocence problem, but has no effect on crime rates. Additionally, we find an unintended consequence of restricting prosecutorial discretion: we find a significant decrease in the rate at which guilty individuals accept plea bargains.
Keywords: Prosecutorial Discretion, Criminal Justice
JEL Classification: C70, C90
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation