Resource Constraints and the Criminal Justice System: Evidence from Judicial Vacancies
CitationCrystal S. Yang, Resource Constraints and the Criminal Justice System: Evidence from Judicial Vacancies (Harvard John M. Olin Discussion Paper Series Discussion Paper No. 820, Apr. 2015).
AbstractTen percent of federal judgeships are currently vacant, yet little is known on the impact of these vacancies on criminal justice outcomes. Using judge deaths and pension eligibility as instruments for judicial vacancies, I find that prosecutors decline more cases during vacan- cies. Prosecuted defendants are more likely to plead guilty and less likely to be incarcerated, suggesting more favorable plea deals. The incarceration effects are larger among defendants represented by private counsel. These estimates imply that the current rate of vacancies has resulted in 1000 fewer prison inmates annually compared to a fully staffed court system, a 1.6 percent decrease.
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