The Effect of the Election of Prosecutors on Criminal Trials

 

The Effect of the Election of Prosecutors on Criminal Trials

Sage 4101

November 11, 2011 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Abstract:

We examine if elections of public prosecutors influence the mix of cases taken to trial vs. plea bargained. A theoretical model is constructed where voters use outcomes of the criminal justice system as a signal of prosecutor's quality leading to a distortion of the mix of cases taken to trial. Using data from North Carolina we test if re-election pressures lead to (a) an increase in the number and proportion of convictions from jury trials (b) a decrease in the average sanction obtained in both jury trials and pleas. Our empirical findings are consistent with our theoretical predictions.

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