Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorMichael Greenstone and Sendhil Mullainathan.en_US
dc.contributor.authorAbrams, David Sen_US
dc.contributor.otherMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Economics.en_US
dc.date.accessioned2007-08-29T18:53:27Z
dc.date.available2007-08-29T18:53:27Z
dc.date.copyright2006en_US
dc.date.issued2006en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/34509en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/34509
dc.descriptionThesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Economics, 2006.en_US
dc.descriptionIncludes bibliographical references.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation presents work empirically investigating various aspects of the criminal justice system. Chapter one, coauthored with Chris Rohlfs, examines the judicial bail-setting process and the defendant decision to pay bail. Optimal bail-setting rules must balance the tradeoffs between costs to defendants and costs to society. This chapter develops a model of optimal bail that incorporates the cost of jailing the defendant, the private cost to the defendant from being incarcerated, the cost of crime, and the costs that arise when defendants abscond. The model is empirically calibrated using data from a randomized experiment. The randomized experiment allows the use of defendants' bail posting decisions to estimate their subjective values of freedom. Our estimates suggest that high-risk defendants would be willing to pay $300 to $1,000 for 90 days of freedom. We find the socially optimal level of bail to be substantially lower than levels currently set by judges. Aggregating nationally, we find that the total social benefit of reform would be on the order of $10 billion per year. Chapter two, coauthored with Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, is a study of the impact of defendant race on interjudge sentencing disparity, which seeks to add to the knowledge of the role of race in the courtroom.en_US
dc.description.abstract(cont.) This chapter attempts to determine whether the legal system discriminates against minorities by addressing a related question: do judges differ in how they sentence minorities? This approach avoids the difficulty of systematic racial differences in case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of cases to judges. We measure the between judge variation in the ratio of African-American to White defendant sentence lengths and incarceration rates. In our data set, which includes all felony cases in Cook County, Illinois from 1985-2005, we find large between-judge variation. We also find that judge characteristics, such as age, and the judge's previous work experience as a prosecutor or defender all predict their racial gap in sentencing. Chapter three presents evidence regarding the deterrent effect of incarceration. Knowing the magnitude of the deterrent effect of incarceration on crime is crucial to optimal policy setting. In this chapter I make use of sentence enhancements in gun robbery sentence lengths caused by add-on gun laws to attempt to estimate this impact. Since defendants subject to add-ons would be incarcerated in the absence of the law change, the short-term effect will be solely deterrent.en_US
dc.description.abstract(cont.) I take advantage of the temporal variation in the passage of these laws in different states to identify the causal impact of the law change. I find that add-on gun laws result in a significant reduction in gun robberies, approximately 5% within the first three years of passage, for the average add-on gun law. The results are robust to a number of tests, and do not appear to be due to a large spillover to other types of crime.en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibilityby David S. Abrams.en_US
dc.format.extent150 leavesen_US
dc.language.isoengen_US
dc.publisherMassachusetts Institute of Technologyen_US
dc.rightsM.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission.en_US
dc.rights.urihttp://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/34509en_US
dc.rights.urihttp://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582
dc.subjectEconomics.en_US
dc.titleEssays on the economics of law, crime and discriminationen_US
dc.typeThesisen_US
dc.description.degreePh.D.en_US
dc.contributor.departmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Economics.en_US
dc.identifier.oclc70890010en_US


Files in this item

Thumbnail

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record