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Pardons, Executions and Homicide

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  • H. Naci Mocan
  • R. Kaj Gittings

Abstract

This paper uses a data set that consists of the entire history of 6,143 death sentences between 1977 and 1997 in the United States to investigate the impact of capital punishment on homicide. This data set is merged with state panels that include crime and deterrence measures as well as state characteristics to analyze the impact of executions and governors' pardons on criminal activity. Because the exact month and year of each execution and pardon can be identified, they are matched with criminal activity in the relevant time frame. Controlling for a variety of state characteristics, the paper investigates the impact of the execution rate, pardon rate, homicide arrest rate, the imprisonment rate and the prison death rate on the rate of homicide. The models are estimated in a number of different forms, controlling for state fixed effects, common time trends, and state-specific time trends. Each additional execution decreases homicides by 5 to 6, while three additional pardons generate one to 1.5 additional homicides. These results are robust to model specifications and measurement of the variables.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8639.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Publication status: published as Mocan, H. Naci and Kaj Gittings. “Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment." Journal of Law and Economics 46, 2 (October 2003): 453-78.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8639

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  3. Laura M. Argys & H. Naci Mocan, 2004. "Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? An Analysis of Prisoners on Death Row in the United States," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-282, 06.
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  10. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  11. Cameron, Samuel, 1994. "A review of the econometric evidence on the effects of capital punishment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 197-214.
  12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-88, August.
  13. Passell, Peter & Taylor, John B, 1977. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Another View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 445-51, June.
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  17. Ehrlich, Isaac & Brower, George D, 1987. "On the Issue of Causality in the Economic Model of Crime and Law Enforcement: Some Theoretical Considerations and Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 99-106, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Alessandro Barbarino & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2007. "The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence From Several Italian Collective Pardons," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 55, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  2. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," Emory Economics 0314, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  3. Earl L. Grinols & David B. Mustard, 2006. "Casinos, Crime, and Community Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 28-45, February.
  4. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul Rubin, 2007. "From the "Econometrics of Capital Punishment" to the "Capital Punishment" of Econometrics: On the Use and Abuse of Sensitivity Analysis," Emory Economics 0715, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  5. Joanna Shepherd, . "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1017, American Law & Economics Association.

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