Estimating the Effect of America's Most Wanted: A Duration Analysis of Wanted Fugitives
Fugitives fleeing criminal prosecution and punishment are a major obstacle in the effort to fight crime, and conventional wisdom holds that publicity, such as the television program America's Most Wanted, successfully locates wanted fugitives. This paper estimates a hazard model of fugitive flight using a sample of recently pursued fugitives and tests whether a fugitive's appearance on the television program America's Most Wanted hastens apprehension. The estimates show that broadcasting a fugitive's profile on America's Most Wanted substantially raises the apprehension hazard by a factor of seven and shortens the expected fugitive spell by roughly a fourth. The estimates also suggest that the television program provides a net social benefit. A fugitive's demographic and offense characteristics also correlate with the apprehension hazard.
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