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Pardons, Executions and Homicide

Author

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  • H. Naci Mocan
  • R. Kaj Gittings

Abstract

This paper uses a data set that consists of the entire history of 6,143 death sentences between 1977 and 1997 in the United States to investigate the impact of capital punishment on homicide. This data set is merged with state panels that include crime and deterrence measures as well as state characteristics to analyze the impact of executions and governors' pardons on criminal activity. Because the exact month and year of each execution and pardon can be identified, they are matched with criminal activity in the relevant time frame. Controlling for a variety of state characteristics, the paper investigates the impact of the execution rate, pardon rate, homicide arrest rate, the imprisonment rate and the prison death rate on the rate of homicide. The models are estimated in a number of different forms, controlling for state fixed effects, common time trends, and state-specific time trends. Each additional execution decreases homicides by 5 to 6, while three additional pardons generate one to 1.5 additional homicides. These results are robust to model specifications and measurement of the variables.

Suggested Citation

  • H. Naci Mocan & R. Kaj Gittings, 2001. "Pardons, Executions and Homicide," NBER Working Papers 8639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8639
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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Barbarino & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2014. "The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence from Several Italian Collective Pardons," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 1-37, February.
    2. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul Rubin, 2011. "From the 'econometrics of capital punishment' to the 'capital punishment' of econometrics: on the use and abuse of sensitivity analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(25), pages 3655-3670.
    3. Earl L. Grinols & David B. Mustard, 2006. "Casinos, Crime, and Community Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 28-45, February.
    4. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 2009. "The Economics of Presidential Pardons and Commutations," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 61-88, January.
    5. repec:esx:essedp:737 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul H. Rubin & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 344-376, August.
    7. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2006. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 512-535, July.
    8. Joanna Shepherd, "undated". "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1017, American Law & Economics Association.
    9. Alessandro Barbarino & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2014. "The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence from Several Italian Collective Pardons," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 1-37, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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