I'd Rather Be Hanged For A Sheep Than A Lamb: The Unintended Consequences Of 'Three-Strikes' Laws
Strong sentences are common "Tough on crime" tool used to reduce the incentives for individuals to participate in criminal activity. However, the design of such policies often ignores other margins along which individuals interested in participating in crime may adjust. The author uses California's Three Strikes law to identify several effects of a large increase in the penalty for a broad set of crimes. Using criminal records data, the author estimates that Three Strikes reduced participation in criminal activity by 20 percent for second-strike eligible offenders and a 28 percent decline for third-strike eligible offenders.