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Sun Nov 10, 2019, 01:59 PM

The Effect of District Attorneys on Local Criminal Justice Outcomes


Sam Krumholz

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 3, 2019

In the United States, elected district attorneys' offices prosecute over 85% of all felony cases, but we know little about their effect on local criminal justice outcomes. Using a newly-collected dataset of district attorney elections, I show that the a Republican district attorney leads to a 18-21% increase in new prison admissions in the two years following their election, while a nonwhite district attorney leads to a 10% decline. In both cases, there are no significant effects on local crime or arrest rates. These results show that the identity of local district attorneys is an important determinant of incarceration rates.


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