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Plea bargaining with budgetary constraints

  • Mongrain, Steeve
  • Roberts, Joanne

In this paper, we construct a simple model that illustrates a perverse effect associated with plea bargaining in which an increase in sanctions can lead to reduced deterrence. This finding is derived from the interaction of binding budgetary constraints and plea bargaining. In an environment with these institutional features, higher sanctions are not always optimal when resources are limited, even if such sanctions are costless. Such potential phenomena may be useful in explaining the fact that many states have introduced limitations on plea bargaining. Prosecutors being concerned with their conviction rates is necessary for such a result to be present.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 8-12

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:29:y:2009:i:1:p:8-12
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

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  1. Baker, Scott & Mezzetti, Claudio, 2001. "Prosecutorial Resources, Plea Bargaining, and the Decision to Go to Trial," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 149-67, April.
  2. Levitt, Steven D. & Miles, Thomas J., 2007. "Empirical Study of Criminal Punishment," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  3. Richard T. Boylan, 2005. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? Evidence from the Careers of U.S. Attorneys," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 379-402.
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  5. William M. Landes, 1974. "Legality and Reality: Some Evidence on Criminal Procedure," NBER Working Papers 0040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1986. "Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Discretion," Working Papers 616, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Boylan, Richard T & Long, Cheryl X, 2005. "Salaries, Plea Rates, and the Career Objectives of Federal Prosecutors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 627-51, October.
  9. Thomas Miceli, 2007. "The Economics of Criminal Procedure," Working papers 2007-24, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  10. Bar-Gill, Oren & Gazal Ayal, Oren, 2006. "Plea Bargains Only for the Guilty," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 353-64, April.
  11. Chris William Sanchirico, 2008. "A Primary-Activity Approach to Proof Burdens," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 273-313, 01.
  12. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2005. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 11780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1994. "Marginal Deterrence in Enforcement of Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1039-66, October.
  14. 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.
  15. Landes, William M, 1971. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 61-107, April.
  16. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  17. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. J. Mark Ramseyer & Eric Rasmusen, 1999. "Why Is the Japanese Conviction Rate So High?," Law and Economics 9907001, EconWPA.
  19. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
  20. Eric Rasmusen & Manu Raghav, & Mark Ramseyer, 2008. "Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor’s Choice," Working Papers 2008-16, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  21. Arun S. Malik, 1990. "Avoidance, Screening and Optimum Enforcement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 341-353, Autumn.
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