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Size, Monitoring and Plea Rate: An Examination of United States Attorneys

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  • Richard Boylan

    (Washington University)

  • Cheryl Xiaoning Long

    (Washington University)

Abstract

A theoretical model relates case mix, staffing, and monitoring to the likelihood of a plea agreement. Analysis of federal drug trafficking cases in fiscal years 1993 through 1996 leads to the following conclusions: There are fewer pleas in districts that are understaffed and are facing more severe crimes. Further, there are fewer pleas in United States Attorney districts with many or with few prosecutors, and there are more pleas in United States Attorney districts with an average number of prosecutors. The explanation for the latter results is that prosecutors may take cases to trial to acquire human capital unless they are closely monitored. Estimation of the monitoring technology shows that it exhibits increasing returns to scale for small districts, and decreasing returns to scale for large districts. Given such a monitoring technology, the relationship between the number of prosecutors and the level of monitoring is consistent with an optimal allocation of resources between monitoring and prosecution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 0089.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0089

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  1. Farrell, Joseph & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1988. "Partnerships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(2), pages 279-97, May.
  2. Gary S. Murphy Becker & Kevin M., 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 79, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Grossman, Gene M & Katz, Michael L, 1983. "Plea Bargaining and Social Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 749-57, September.
  5. William M. Landes, 1974. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 164-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1988. "Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Discretion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 713-28, September.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Daniel P. Kessler & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction," NBER Working Papers 6602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
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