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The Lethal Effects of Three-Strikes Laws

  • Marvell, Thomas B
  • Moody, Carlisle E

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.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 30 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 89-106

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:30:y:2001:i:1:p:89-106
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