The deterrent effect of death penalty eligibility: Evidence from the adoption of child murder eligibility factors

Michael Frakes*, Matthew Harding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

We draw on variations in the reach of capital punishment statutes between 1977 and 2004 to identify the deterrent effects associated with capital eligibility. Focusing on the most prevalent eligibility expansion, we estimate that the adoption of a child murder factor is associated with an approximately 20% reduction in the child murder rate. Eligibility expansions may enhance deterrence by (i) paving the way for more executions and (ii) providing prosecutors with greater leverage to secure enhanced noncapital sentences. While executions themselves are rare, this latter channel may be triggered fairly regularly, providing a reasonable basis for a general deterrent response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberahp021
Pages (from-to)451-497
Number of pages47
JournalAmerican Law and Economics Review
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Law

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