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What Do Prosecutors Maximize? Evidence from the Careers of U.S. Attorneys

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  • Richard T. Boylan
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    Abstract

    This study examines the performance of chief federal prosecutors (U.S. attorneys) and their subsequent careers. In a sample of 570 attorneys in office from 1969 to 2000, the length of prison sentences is positively related to subsequent favorable career outcomes for U.S. attorneys. In contrast, conviction rates do not appear to affect the careers of U.S. attorneys. These results are consistent with longer total prison sentences' being personally beneficial to prosecutors, and prosecutors' maximizing the length of prison sentences. Overall, the results suggest that sentence length, as opposed to convictions rates, is the relevant performance metric. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 379-402

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:7:y:2005:i:2:p:379-402

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    Cited by:
    1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan C McCannon, 2010. "Prosecutorial Retention: Signaling by Trial," Discussion Papers 10-11, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    2. Steeve Mongrain & Joanne Roberts, 2007. "Plea Bargaining with Budgetary Constraints," Discussion Papers dp07-07, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    3. Eric Rasmusen & Manu Raghav & Mark Ramseyer, 2009. "Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor's Choice," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 47-78.
    4. Orzach, Ram & Spurr, Stephen J., 2008. "Lesser-included offenses," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 239-245, December.
    5. Christian Almer & Timo Goeschl, 2011. "The political economy of the environmental criminal justice system: a production function approach," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 611-630, September.
    6. Garoupa, Nuno, 2009. "Some reflections on the economics of prosecutors: Mandatory vs. selective prosecution," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-28, March.
    7. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, . "Settlement and Trial: Selected Analyses of the Bargaining Environment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers vuecon-sub-14-00005, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    8. Grace, Martin F. & Phillips, Richard D., 2008. "Regulator performance, regulatory environment and outcomes: An examination of insurance regulator career incentives on state insurance markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 116-133, January.
    9. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2008. "Inequality and Corruption: Evidence from US States," EPRU Working Paper Series 08-02, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. repec:clg:wpaper:2009-05 is not listed on IDEAS

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