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What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction

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  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Daniel P. Kessler
  • Anne Morrison Piehl

Abstract

This paper presents a model of prosecutors' decision-making processes in which prosecutors (both federal and state) internalize some of the benefits of reducing crime, but also care about developing their own human capital. Since U.S. attorneys make their decision first, they have the opportunity to take the cases that will further their human capital development, knowing that the local district attorneys will handle the other cases. Using two surveys on prison admissions, we find that defendants who are better educated, richer, married, white, have higher-paying occupations more likely to be incarcerated in the federal system. Conversely, state prisons are more likely to incarcerate individuals who are particularly likely to be difficult prisoners, despite the supposed advantages of federal prisons in dealing with the most dangerous criminals.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6602.

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Date of creation: Jun 1998
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Publication status: published as American Law and Economics Review, Fall 2000; issue 2: 259 - 290.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6602

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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Spence Glendon, 1998. "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims and the Culture of Violence," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1822, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Daniel P. Kessler & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1997. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," NBER Working Papers 6261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Francisco González & Carlos Esteban Posada, 2001. "Criminalidad, violencia y gasto público en defensa, justicia y seguridad en Colombia," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 3(4), pages 78-102, January-J.
  2. Richard Boylan & Cheryl Xiaoning Long, 2000. "Size, Monitoring and Plea Rate: An Examination of United States Attorneys," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0089, Econometric Society.
  3. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1999. "The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 6974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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