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Testing the Deterrent Effect of Sentence Lengthening Legislation on Violent Crime

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Holly Day

This paper explores the assumed deterrent effect of longer sentence length on the frequency at which violent crime is committed. To do this, an econometric analysis of state panel data using a difference-in-differences model examines the effects of sentence lengthening legislation by comparing a treatment group of states that have enacted stricter sentencing policies to a control group of states that have not done so. Many policymakers and voters believe that longer sentencing increases the costs of crime which discourages potential criminals, thus having a determinant effect on the rate at which crime is committed. This paper tests the hypothesis that the supply of violent crime is, for the most part, inelastic to costs such as sentencing lengths. Some possible explanations for this lack of elasticity might be the complexity of the legal system itself and/or a misunderstanding of the motivations that incentivize criminals.
University / Institution: Southern Utah University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Joshua Price
Location: Union Building, PARLOR B (3:30pm)