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The Lethal Effects of Three-Strikes Laws

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  • Marvell, Thomas B
  • Moody, Carlisle E

Abstract

Three-strikes laws provide very long prison terms for certain criminals with prior convictions of serious violent crimes. It is likely that the laws increase homicides because a few criminals, fearing the enhanced penalties, murder victims and witnesses to limit resistance and identification. With a state-level multiple-time-series design, we find that the laws are associated with 10-12 percent more homicides in the short run and 23-29 percent in the long run. The impact occurs in almost all 24 states with three-strikes laws. Furthermore, there is little evidence that the laws have any compensating crime reduction impact through deterrence or incapacitation. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Marvell, Thomas B & Moody, Carlisle E, 2001. "The Lethal Effects of Three-Strikes Laws," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 89-106, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:30:y:2001:i:1:p:89-106
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/468112
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:232-:d:127412 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. John R. Lott, 2013. "Principles and standards for the benefit–cost analysis of crime," Chapters,in: Principles and Standards for Benefit–Cost Analysis, chapter 4, pages 153-171 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Ren, Ling & Zhao, Jihong & Lovrich, Nicholas P., 2008. "Liberal versus conservative public policies on crime: What was the comparative track record during the 1990s?," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 316-325, August.
    5. Matthew J. Baker & Niklas J. Westelius, 2013. "Crime, expectations, and the deterrence hypothesis," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on Economic Models of Law, chapter 12, pages 235-280 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Bjerk, David J., 2016. "Mandatory Minimum Policy Reform and the Sentencing of Crack Cocaine Defendants: An Analysis of the Fair Sentencing Act," IZA Discussion Papers 10237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Shepherd, Joanna M, 2002. "Police, Prosecutors, Criminals, and Determinate Sentencing: The Truth about Truth-in-Sentencing Laws," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 509-534, October.
    8. Paul R. Zimmerman, 2004. "State executions, deterrence, and the incidence of murder," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 7, pages 163-193, May.
    9. Steve Cook & Duncan Watson, 2013. "Breaks and Convergence in U.S. Regional Crime Rates: Analysis of Their Presence and Implications," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(3), pages 1-11, August.
    10. Bjerk, David, 2005. "Making the Crime Fit the Penalty: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion under Mandatory Minimum Sentencing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 591-625, October.
    11. Zhao, Jihong & Ren, Ling & Lovrich, Nicholas P., 2010. "Budgetary support for police services in U.S. municipalities: Comparing political culture, socioeconomic characteristics and incrementalism as rival explanations for budget share allocation to police," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 266-275, May.
    12. Marvell, Thomas B, 2001. "The Impact of Banning Juvenile Gun Possession," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 691-713, October.
    13. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi, 2010. "Witness Intimidation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 399-432.
    14. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9544-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Thomas B. Marvell, 2010. "Prison Population and Crime," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Carlisle E. Moody & Thomas B. Marvell, 2010. "On the Choice of Control Variables in the Crime Equation," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(5), pages 696-715, October.
    17. Gabriel Costeira Machado & Cristiano Aguiar De Oliveira, 2018. "The Deterrent Effects Of Brazillian Child Labor Law," Anais do XLIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 44th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 237, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    18. Worrall, John L., 2004. "The effect of three-strikes legislation on serious crime in California," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 283-296.

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