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What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Anne Morrison Peihl

This paper presents a model of prosecutors' decision-making processes in which prosecutors (both federal and state) internalize some of the benefits of reducing crime, but also carte about developing their own human capital. Since U.S. attorneys make their decisions first, they have the opportunity to take the cases that will further their human capital development, knowing that the local district attorneys will handle the other cases. Using two surveys on prison admissions, we find that defendants who are better educated, richer, married, white, have higher-paying occupations, and have less extensive criminals records are more likely to be incarcerated in the federal system. Conversely, state prisons are more likely to incarcerate individuals who are particularly likely to be difficult prisoners, despite the supposed advantages of federal prisons in dealing with the most dangerous criminals.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 29.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:29
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Spence Glendon, 1998. "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims and the Culture of Violence," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1822, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Kessler, Daniel P & Piehl, Anne Morrison, 1998. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 256-76, October.
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