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March 4, 2008

Research on capital punishment's impact on plea deals

Though the article itself is not available for free, this new posting on SSRN spotlights an issue that I have long thought critical to really understanding the death penalty's true impact on modern criminal justice systems.  The article by Ilyana Kuziemko, which comes from a recent issue of the American Law and Economics Review, is titled "Does the Threat of the Death Penalty Affect Plea Bargaining in Murder Cases? Evidence from New York's 1995 Reinstatement of Capital Punishment."  Here is the abstract:

This article investigates whether the death penalty encourages defendants charged with potentially capital crimes to plead guilty in exchange for lesser sentences.  I exploit a natural experiment in New York State: the 1995 reinstatement of capital punishment, coupled with the public refusal of some prosecutors to pursue death sentences (N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25 [McKinney 1975]).  Using individual-level data on all felony arrests in the state between 1985 and 1998, I find the death penalty leads defendants to accept plea bargains with harsher terms, but does not increase defendants' overall propensity to plead guilty. A differences-in-differences analysis of a national cross-section of homicide defendants confirms these results.

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March 4, 2008 at 04:12 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Doc, I notice the study was done in NY, where capital punishment isn't used much. Christopher Ochoa would disagree with Kuziemko, and at least several other recently exonerated Texans.

I don't know if you saw it, but Jamie Spencer also had a post on this topic recently. best,

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 4, 2008 10:29:31 AM

The other recently exonerated Texans, obviously, would disagree with Kuziemko, not Ochoa! Sorry for the sloppy grammar.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 4, 2008 10:32:54 AM

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting subject!

Passer Byer

Posted by: free essays | May 11, 2008 4:10:44 PM

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