Leadership

Responses To More Severe Punishment In The Courtroom: Evidence From Truth-In-Sentencing Laws

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Executive Summary

The authors investigate behavioral responses of judges and prosecutors to more severe punishments by analyzing the effects of Truth-In-Sentencing (TIS) laws in a large sample of individual criminal cases. The TIS laws raised effective punishment by requiring offenders to serve at least 85% of their imposed sentence in prison. Differences between the U.S. states in the timing of adoption and the types of crimes covered provide a source of identification. Laws that impose more severe punishments on criminals sometimes bring unexpected consequences.

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