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Does the Threat of the Death Penalty Affect Plea Bargaining in Murder Cases? Evidence from New York's 1995 Reinstatement of Capital Punishment

  • Ilyana Kuziemko
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    This article investigates whether the death penalty encourages defendants charged with potentially capital crimes to plead guilty in exchange for lesser sentences. I exploit a natural experiment in New York State: the 1995 reinstatement of capital punishment, coupled with the public refusal of some prosecutors to pursue death sentences (N.Y. Penal Law � 125.25 [McKinney 1975]). Using individual-level data on all felony arrests in the state between 1985 and 1998, I find the death penalty leads defendants to accept plea bargains with harsher terms, but does not increase defendants' overall propensity to plead guilty. A differences-in-differences analysis of a national cross-section of homicide defendants confirms these results. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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

    Volume (Year): 8 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 116-142

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:8:y:2006:i:1:p:116-142
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