3 Tuesday, we… Formulated the goal of the legal process Minimize social costs, which consist of:Administrative costs, andError costsBroke the legal process into a series of steps, and discussed a couple of themToday:More on the legal processA bit on crime and criminal law (more Thursday)
4 Stages of the legal process… decision to pursue a legal claimbargaining over out-of-court settlementspre-trial exchange of informationtrial itselfappeals processWe said that we expect people to sue for harms where the expected gain from suing is bigger than the costFiling fees – initial costs of beginning a legal complaint – determine how many people choose to file suitsWhen failures to provide a remedy have only distributional effects, the social cost of these errors is close to 0, so filing fees should be high, to minimize administrative costsWhen failures to provide a remedy have strong incentive effects, the social cost of these errors is large, so filing fees should be lowWe talked about the decision to settle or go to trialTrials are costly to both partiesSo the expected cost of a trial to the defendant (including litigation costs) is greater than the expected benefit to the plaintiff (net of litigation costs)Out-of-court settlements can be Pareto-improving, and seem likely to occur when the two sides agree on the expected judgment that a trial would lead toWhen the parties are relatively pessimistic about their chances in court, settlements should be more likely.When the parties are relatively optimistic about their own chances, settlements are less likely, and may be impossibleWe talked about the process of pre-trial discoveryBefore trial, the two parties share information about the case – some of it voluntarily, some of it because they are required toThe parties will happily share information that corrects the other side’s relative optimismSo voluntary information exchange should make settlements more likelyVoluntary information exchange reduces both administrative costs and error costsDuring the discovery process, parties are also forced to share information they would otherwise have kept secretThis could be information that would correct the other side’s relative pessimism, and therefore could make settlement less likelyInvoluntary information exchange reduces error costs, but the impact on administrative costs is unclear
5 degree of relative optimism Pre-Trial BargainingPlaintiff might accept settlements S whenS > Expected JudgmentPlaintiff – Legal CostsPlaintiffDefendant might offer settlements S whenS < Expected JudgmentDefendant + Legal CostsDefendantSo settlement is possible whenEJP – LCP < EJD + LCDwhich is whenEJP – EJD < LCP + LCDSuppose there are no legal costs to settling out of court…The left-hand side can be thought of as the amount of relative optimismWhen the two sides agree on the expected judgment, this is 0Relative pessimism makes this negative, relative optimism makes it positiveAnd the right-hand side is the two sides’ combined legal costs.degree of relative optimismcombined legal costs
6 Pre-Trial Bargaining Suppose parties agree on expected judgment EJ If bargaining fails and case goes to trial,Plaintiff gets expected payoff EJ – LCplaintiffDefendant gets expected payoff – EJ – LCdefendantSo these are threat points during bargainingCombined payoffs are – LCplaintiff – LCdefendantIf settlement is reached, combined payoffs are 0So gains from cooperation are LCplaintiff + LCdefendantIf gains from cooperation are split evenly…Plaintiff’s payoff is (threat point) + ½ (gains)= (EJ – LCplaintiff) + ½ (LCplaintiff + LCdefendant)= EJ – ½ LCplaintiff + ½ LCdefendantSuppose the two sides are bargaining over a settlementAnd suppose that the two sides agree on the expected outcome of a trial, EJThe defendant knows that if bargaining breaks down, they’ll go to trial, and his expected payoff will be – EJ – LCD, so this is his threat point.The plaintiff knows that if bargaining breaks down, they’ll go to trial, and his expected payoff will be EJ – LCP, so this is his threat point.Combined payoffs if they go to trial are – LCD – LCP if they go to trialIf they reach a settlement, their combined payoffs will be 0 – the plaintiff will receive exactly what the defendant paysSo the gains to cooperation are the litigation costs that are avoided, LCD + LCP.Recall earlier in the class, we said that when two parties bargain, one reasonable outcome is when the gains from cooperation get split evenlyThat is, each side’s payoff is his threat value plus half the gains from cooperationWe can apply the same idea in the context of an out-of-court settlementIf bargaining is successful and the gains are split evenly, then the plaintiff gets his threat value plus half the gains from cooperation: this would beEJ – LCP + ½ (LCD + LCP) = EJ – ½ LCP + ½ LCDAnd so the settlement reached is for the plaintiff to pay EJ – ½ LCP + ½ LCD
7 Pre-Trial Bargaining We just concluded… If the two parties agree on expected outcome of trial……and successfully negotiate a settlement……and divide gains from cooperation equally…then settlement = EJ – ½ LCP + ½ LCDIf going to trial is equally costly to both parties, this is just EJ – the expected judgment at trialBut if trial is more costly to defendant, this would be more
8 Nuisance Suits A nuisance suit is a lawsuit with no legal merit If it goes to trial, defendant will definitely win (EJ = 0)Sole purpose of a nuisance suit is to force a settlementJust found: “reasonable settlement” = EJ – ½ LCP + ½ LCDSo if LCP = LCD, nuisance suit is pointless – reasonable settlement would be 0But suppose going to trial is very costly for defendantPublicity would be bad for defendant’s reputationOr, developer has to settle lawsuit to avoid delaying constructionLCP is just legal feesBut LCD includes legal fees plus other costsSo even if lawsuit has no merit, defendant might feel forced to pay a settlement
9 Nuisance Suits Example Cost of going to trial is $5,000 for defendant, $1,000 for plaintiffExpected judgment = 0Threat points are -5,000 and -1,000Gains from cooperation are 6,000If gains are split evenly, plaintiff’s payoff is(threat point) + ½ (gains)= -1,000 + ½ (6,000)= 2,000So nuisance suit might lead to a settlement of $2,000, even though expected judgment at trial is 0
10 Failures in negotiations Even without relative optimism, settlement negotiations may fail due to private informationEx: defendant made a faulty product, which injured lots of peopleSome sustained minor injuries, say $2,000Some sustained major injuries, say $10,000Before trial, defendant can’t tell scope of plaintiff’s injuriesSuppose legal costs are $500 for each sideIf ½ of plaintiffs had major injuries, average injury = $6,000So reasonably settlement offer might be $6,000But if all defendants are offered a settlement of $6,000, the ones with minor injuries will take it, and the ones with major injuries will go to trialDefendant has two choices:Offer settlements large enough that everyone will acceptBut then even people with very minor injuries, or none, might sueOr offer only small settlements, and get stuck going to trial in many casesAs we mentioned before, though, even when the parties are not relatively optimistic, settlements may sometimes fail to be reached due to private informationFor example, suppose the defendant made a faulty product, which injured lots of peopleSome people sustained minor injuries, say, $2,000 worth of harmSome sustained major injuries, say, $10,000 worth of harmBut the defendant can’t tell, before going to trial, whether a given plaintiff received major or minor injuries.Suppose legal costs are $500 for each sideIf major and minor injuries were equally common and everyone sued, the average judgment might be around $6,000With equal litigation costs, this might be a reasonable settlement offerBut if the defendant offered to settle each case for $6,000, the plaintiffs with minor injuries would all accept, and the plaintiffs with major injuries would go to trial and be awarded larger damages.So the defendant has two choicesHe can offer settlements large enough that everyone will accept themBut if he does this, he creates a large incentive for even people with very minor injuries, or none at all, to initiate meritless lawsuits, hoping to settleOr he can offer only very small settlements, or no settlements at all, and accept that he’ll go to trial much of the time.(The book points out that we can see nuisance suits as bluffs – people with no valid claim start a lawsuit hoping to settle, knowing that they can’t win at trial. They point out that another strategy is to settle with some plaintiffs and go to trial with others, at random – basically, making bluffing more costly.)
11 Stages of the legal process… decision to pursue a legal claimbargaining over out-of-court settlementspre-trial exchange of informationtrial itselfappeals process
12 TrialIn Europe…Judges in civil trials take active role in asking questions and developing case“Inquisitorial system,” since judge asks questionsIn U.S…Lawyers’ job to develop caseJudge is more of a passive referee“Adversarial system,” since competing lawyers are adversaries
13 Incentives Lawyers have a strong incentive to win at trial May be working on contingencyValue reputation for winningJudges have no stake in outcome of the trialJudges will (we hope) generally do what is right……but have less motivation to work hard“Judges have incentives to do what is right and easy; lawyers have incentives to do what is profitable and hard.”We can think about the incentives of the parties in a trialLawyers have a strong incentive to win at trialPlaintiff’s lawyers may be working on contingency, so they make more money when their client winsEven when this isn’t the case, successful lawyers earn a reputation, and can charge more for their services in the futureSo lawyers are motivated to work hard, but only in the interest of their own clientOn the other hand, judges, by design, have no stake in the outcome of the trial. (Different countries have different systems for ensuring this.)Thus, we expect judges to generally do what is right, rather than what favors one side or the otherJudges, however, also have less motivation to work hard.The book sums up by saying that “judges have incentives to do what is right and easy; lawyers have incentives to do what is profitable and hard.”
14 Who pays the costs of a trial? In U.K., loser in a lawsuit often pays legal expenses of winnerDiscourages “nuisance suits”But also discourages suits where there was actual harm that may be hard to proveIn U.S., each side generally pays own legal costsBut some states have rules that change this under certain circumstancesAnother important question is who pays the costs of the trial. We already mentioned that some courts (but not all) charge fees for filing a complaint and for various other stages of the legal process.In the U.K., the loser in a lawsuit generally has to pay the legal expenses of the winnerThat is, if someone brings a baseless suit against me and loses, they have to pay my legal expensesThis discourages “nuisance suits” of the type we described earlierHowever, it also discourages suits where there was actual harm that will be hard to prove.In the U.S., each side usually pays their own legal costs. However, some states have rules that change this under certain circumstances.
15 Who pays the costs of a trial? Rule 68 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure“At any time more than 10 days before the trial begins, a party defending against a claim may serve upon the adverse party an offer [for a settlement]…If the judgment finally obtained by the offeree is not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the making of the offer.”“Fee shifting rule”ExampleI hit you with my car, you sueBefore trial, I offer to settle for $6,000, you refuseIf you win at trial, but judgment is less than $6,000……then under Rule 68, you would have to pay me for all my legal expenses after I made the offer
16 Who pays the costs of a trial? Rule 68 does two things to encourage settlements:Gives me added incentive to make a serious settlement offerGives you added incentive to accept my offerBut not actually as generous as it soundsAttorney’s fees not always included in fees that are coveredAsymmetricPlaintiff is penalized for rejecting defendant’s offerDefendant is not penalized for rejecting offer from plaintiffThe rule does two things to encourage settlements:it gives me an added incentive to make a serious settlement offerand it gives you an added incentive to accept my offer.Your incentive is because if you don’t accept my offer, you may be stuck paying some of my legal costsMy incentive is the same: if I make you an offer and you refuse, I may end up getting some of my legal costs coveredThis should lead to fewer cases going to trial.Rule 68 is not actually as generous as it soundsFor one thing, attorney’s fees are not always counted as part of the legal fees that are coveredAlso, note that it is one-sided: plaintiffs are penalized for rejecting defendants’ settlement offers, but defendants are not penalized for rejecting plaintiffs’ offers.
17 Who pays the costs of a trial? Kathryn Spier, “Pretrial Bargaining and the Design of Fee-Shifting Rules”Game-theory analysis of Rule 68 and similar rulesShows that when parties have private information, fee-shifting rules like this increase probability of settlementThen considers designing “perfect” rule to maximize number of cases that would settle out of courtIdeal rule is similar to two-sided version of Rule 68Take each side’s most generous settlement offerCompute a cutoffIf eventual judgment is below this cutoff, plaintiff pays both sides’ legal fees; if above cutoff, defendant pays both sides’ feesThe paper by Kathryn Spier on the syllabus, “Pretrial Bargaining and the Design of Fee-Shifting Rules,” gives a game-theory analysis of Rule 68 and similar rules. The paper is quite technical, but the conclusions she reaches are nice.She shows that when both parties have private information about the likely outcome of a trial, a fee-shifting rule like Rule 68 increases the probability of a settlementShe then goes on to consider what would happen if the court could design the “perfect” rule to maximize the number of cases that are settled out of courtShe shows that this ideal rule would look similar to a a two-sided version of Rule 68, where if the case goes to trial, either side could be penalized for “exaggerating” how strong their case was pre-trialIn approximate terms, the ideal rule would take each side’s most generous settlement offer, and based on these, compute some cutoff level of damagesIf the case went to trial and the eventual judgment was below this cutoff, the plaintiff would pay both sides’ legal fees; if the eventual ruling was above this cutoff, the defendant would pay both sides’ legal feesIf the cutoff rule is chosen correctly, this gives each side strong enough incentives to be honest about the strength of their case ahead of time, which maximizes the chance of a settlement(The paper uses a theoretical framework known as “mechanism design” – basically, where someone designs a game ahead of time to get people to reveal private information they have. Mechanism design is also used as a tool in analyzing auctions, voting rules, and some other situations. Like I said, the paper itself is pretty technical, but the results are nice.)
18 Unitary versus Segmented Trials Trial has to answer two questions:Is defendant liable?If so, how much are damages?Unitary trial considers liability and damages at same timeEconomies of scopeSegmented trial considers liability first, then damages later (if necessary)Damages phase may not be necessaryIn U.S., judges have discretion over which type of trialRecall that a typical trial has to answer two questions: is the defendant liable, and if so, how much are damages?Another variable in the design of a trial system is whether these questions are considered at the same time, or separatelyTrials where liability and damages are considered at the same time are referred to as unitary trialsTrials where liability is judged first, and then damages are evaluated in a separate trial segment, are called segmented trialsThere are arguments in favor of either oneThe argument for unitary trials is economies of scope – the reduction in costs from doing more than one thing at onceThe court will have to consider much of the same evidence to judge liability and damagesIn some cases, the two are tightly linked – figuring out negligence under the Hand rule requires knowing how much damage the accident causedSo when the two are closely related, it is likely cheaper (in terms of time) to evaluate both at once.The argument for segmented trials is that the second segment will not always be necessaryFirst of all, of course, if the defendant is not held to be liable, damages don’t have to be calculatedSecond, we considered earlier the case where the defense cannot distinguish between legitimate suits and baseless nuisance suitsThis makes it very hard to settle cases ahead of time – the defense can either offer a large settlement that everyone would accept, and live with richly rewarding the nuisance suits; or he has to go to trial with all the legitimate suits.In a segmented trial, however, once liability has been established, the parties then have another opportunity to settle.So the second phase of the trial could be unnecessary, either because liability was not found, or because the liability phase was enough to filter out the baseless lawsuits and lead to settlement of the legitimate ones.In the U.S., judges have discretion over whether a trial will be unitary or segmented.
19 Burden of proofBurden of proof: who is responsible for showing what at trialIn criminal case, prosecutor’s burden to show defendant is guilty, not defendant’s burden to show he’s innocentSimilarly, in civil case, plaintiff’s burden to make caseUnder negligence rule, plaintiff has to prove defendant was negligent (rather than defendant having to show he was not)Under contributory negligence, once defendant is shown to be negligent, it’s defendant’s burden to show plaintiff was also negligent
20 Standard of proofStandard of proof: degree of certainty to which something must be shown in courtIn criminal cases, “beyond a reasonable doubt” – very high standardIn civil cases, plaintiff usually has to prove case by “a preponderance of the evidence”Much lower standard –interpreted as anything over 50% certaintyFor punitive damages to be awarded, high standard of proof is often required: “clear and convincing evidence”Efficient level depends on relative costs of two types of errorsFinding someone liable when they should not beFinding someone not liable when they should beThe standard of proof is the degree of certainty to which something must be proven in courtIn criminal cases, this is “beyond a reasonable doubt” – a very high standardIn civil cases, the standard of proof is much lower: under the common law, the plaintiff must prove his case by a preponderance of the evidenceThis is usually interpreted as anything beyond 50% certainty.For punitive damages to be assessed, the standard of proof is often higher than this: clear and convincing evidence, which is higher than preponderance but lower than reasonable doubtThe efficient level of the standard of proof depends on the relative costs of the two types of errors – in a criminal case, convicting someone innocent versus freeing someone guiltyConvicting an innocent person of a crime is seem as very costly, so the standard of proof in criminal cases is very highRuling against someone in a lawsuit when they should not have been liable is less costlyThey may get stuck paying damages they shouldn’t owe, but that doesn’t matter for efficiencySo the standard of proof is lower in civil cases
21 Rules of evidence Rules for what evidence court can pay attention to Textbook gives examples where rules seem inconsistent, if goal is simply to maximize probability of “right outcome”When we focus on efficiency, we care only about outcomes, not about processBut in real-world legal system, process is important in its own rightThe book gives a couple of examples of ways in which the rules of evidence – rules for what evidence a court should pay attention to – seem inconsistent, if the goal is simply to maximize the probability of getting the right answerThey give an example of a concert being held in a 1000-seat auditorium400 ticket holders have taken their seats when a mob breaks in and fills up the remaining seats without ticketsThe concert organizer photographs the crowd, and can identify some people who are in the audience, but doesn’t know who had a ticket and who didn’t.Since there were 400 legitimate customers and 600 crashers, each person has a 60% likelihood of having broken the law; but the court tends not to allow this type of statistical argument.On the other hand, an eyewitness who thought he could identify one of the gate crashers, but was shown to only identify people correctly 60% of the time, would probably be allowedThe upshot: by focusing on efficiency in this class, we care only about outcomes, not on how they are reachedBut in a real-world legal system, the process by which an outcome is reached is seen as important in its own right, not just because it hopefully leads to the right outcomeWe’ll talk more about this in a couple of lectures
22 Stages of the legal process… decision to pursue a legal claimbargaining over out-of-court settlementspre-trial exchange of informationtrial itselfappeals process
23 Appeals In U.S., three levels of federal courts District courts, circuit courts of appeals, Supreme Court(Many state court systems also have three levels, but this varies by state)Parties in district court cases have right of appealCircuit court is required to consider their appealParties in circuit court cases do notSupreme Court has discretionary review – chooses which cases to hearIn common law countries, appeals courts tend to only consider certain issuesAppeals generally limited to matters of lawMatters of fact generally not consideredFinally, a little bit on the appeals processIn the U.S., there are three levels of federal courts: district courts, circuit courts of appeals, and the Supreme CourtLitigants in district courts have a right of appeal – the circuit court is required to consider their appealLitigants in circuit courts do not have a right of appeal – the Supreme Court has discretionary review – it can choose whether to consider a particular case or not.In some countries, appeals courts hear the entire case again.In common law countries, appeals courts tend to only consider certain issues.Common law appeals are generally limited to matters of law – whether a legal error was made at trial, such as a statute being applied incorrectly.Matters of fact – whether a particular witness was credible enough to convince a jury of a particular claim – are generally not considered on appeal
24 Appeals Recall goal of legal system Minimize administrative costs + error costsClearly, appeals process increases administrative costsSo only efficient if it reduces error costsReasons why appeals process may reduce error costsAppeals courts are more likely to reverse “wrong” decisions than “right” decisions……which leads to losing parties appealing more often when decision was “wrong”Clearly, an appeals process adds to the administrative costs of a legal systemSo it is only beneficial if it reduces error costsCooter and Ulen offer two reasons why this might be the case, and so the appeals process might decrease total social costs:Appeals courts are more likely to reverse “wrong” decisions than “right” onesThis leads losing parties to appeal “wrong” decisions with higher probability than “right” onesThe first condition is required for the appeals process to reduce error costs at all.The second condition – that bad decisions are more likely to be appealed than good decisions – suggests that the reduction in error costs may outweigh the increase in administrative costs.(If all cases were equally likely to be appealed, then the appeals process could simply be considered a part of the original trial.)We’ll come back to the legal process once more next week, when we revisit some of the big-picture questions about efficiency.But for now, …
26 Criminal law differs from civil law in several ways Criminal intended to do wrongCase brought by government, not individual plaintiffHarm done tends to be public as well as privateStandard of proof is higherIf found guilty, defendant will be punishedThursday, we’ll talk about each of these aspects of criminal lawFor today, though, just some empirical facts about crime and criminal law
27 Crime in the U.S.As of 2005, over 2,000,000 prisoners, nearly 5,000,000 more on probation or paroleUp from ~500,000 in 198093% maleIn federal prisons, 60% are drug-relatedIncarceration rate of 0.7% is 7 times that of Western EuropeCooter and Ulen estimate social cost of crime$100 billion spend annually on prevention and punishment1/3 on police, 1/3 on prisons, 1/3 on courts, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, etc.Estimate another $100 billion on private crime preventionEstimate total social cost to be $500 billion, or 4% of GDPCooter and Ulen try to estimate the social cost of crimeThe easy part to calculate is money spent on crime prevention and punishment, which is over $100 billion a year.One third is on policeOne third is on prisonsOne-third is on courts, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, and so on.They estimate nearly another $100 billion of private money is spent on crime prevention, such as alarms and security systems, private guards, and so on.They don’t really give numbers for the direct cost of crimes – stolen property, injuries, and so onThey estimate the total social cost of crime to be $500 billion, or 4% of GDP
28 Crime in the U.S. Crime rates (relative to population) in the U.S… Decreased steadily from mid-1930s to early 1960sIncreased sharply in 1960s and 1970sIn 1980s,Nonviolent crimes committed by adults dropped sharplyViolent crimes committed by adults dropped slightlyViolent crimes by young people went upViolent and nonviolent crime rates dropped sharply in 1990s, continued to drop more slowly since 2000Nonviolent crime rate in U.S. now similar to Europe
29 Crime in the U.S. Criminals in the U.S… Disproportionally young males Crime rates generally follow trend in fraction of population age 14-25Both violent criminals and victims disproportionally African-AmericanRelatively small number of people commit large fraction of violent crimesTend to come from dysfunctional families……have relatives who are criminals……do poorly in school……be drug- and alcohol-abusers……live in poor/chaotic neighborhoods……and being misbehavior at young age
30 Do harsher punishments deter crime? Hard to answer empirically, because two effectsDeterrenceWhen punishment gets more severe, crime rates may drop because criminals are afraid of being caughtIncapacitationWhen punishment gets more severe, crime rates may drop because more criminals are already in jailKessler and Levitt: natural experimentVoters in California in 1982 passed ballot initiative adding 5 years per prior conviction to sentence for certain crimesFound immediate drop of 4% in crimes eligible for enhanced sentencesCooter and Ulen discuss several empirical attempts to measure the extent to which punishment deters crime.As we mentioned Thursday, it’s often difficult to separate two separate effects:deterrence – when punishment gets more severe, crime rates may go down because people are more afraid of being caughtincapacitation – when punishment gets more severe, say, through longer prison terms, so crime rates may go down just because more criminals are already in jailThe early literature didn’t deal so directly with this problem, but did find that higher conviction rates and harsher punishments were associated with lower crime rates.Two studies, rather than looking at high-level crime rates, studied individual people who were likely to commit crimes: convicted criminals being released from prisonWithin this population, there was still a deterrence effect:Those with a high chance of being convicted again were arrested less in the months following release.One paper (by Dan Kessler and Steve Levitt) used a “natural experiment” to separate the deterrent effect from the incapacitation effectIn 1982, voters in California passed a ballot initiative which added 5 years to sentences for certain serious crimes for each prior conviction by the criminalAny immediate change in crime rates should be due to deterrence, since the number of criminals in prison would only respond graduallyThey found an almost immediate 4% drop in the crimes that were eligible for these “sentence enhancements”So there did seem to be a clear deterrent effectThe evidence on how crime rates respond to general economic conditions is more mixedThe studies tend to use national economic conditions, but you’d expect crime rates to respond more to local conditions in high-crime areas
31 Imprisonment Imprisonment has several effects: DeterrencePunishmentOpportunity for rehabilitationIncapacitationWhen is incapacitation effective?When supply of criminals is inelastic(When there isn’t someone else waiting to take criminal’s place)And when it changes number of crimes a person will commit, rather than just delaying themWe’ve already said that imprisonment has multiple effects:acts as a deterrentpunishes the guiltygives an opportunity for rehabilitationincapacitates offendersCooter and Ulen point out that incapacitation is only effective under certain situationsFirst, incapacitation only matters if an arrested criminal won’t be immediately replaced by someone elseIf you arrest the head of a drug gang, his top lieutenant might take over, and crime might go on apaceCooter and Ulen put it this way: incapacitation is effective at reducing crime when the supply of criminals is inelasticSecond, incapacitation only matters if it changes the number of crimes a person will commit, rather than just delaying them until he gets out of prisonIf punishment for a third offense is very severe, most criminals might choose to only commit crimes until they’ve been caught twiceA longer sentence for the first offense may delay the second round of crimes, but not eliminate itOn the other hand, crimes that are caused by impulsive youth, and whose motivation fades with age, would be lowered by incapacitation.
32 ImprisonmentDirect costs of holding someone in maximum-security prison estimated at $40,000/yearIn some states, prisoners do useful workAttica State Prison (NY) had metal shopMinnesota firm employs inmates as computer programmersMedium-security prisons in Illinois make marching band uniformsBut legal limitations: most state and federal courts moved away from judicial discretion toward mandatory sentencingRecent move in opposite directionBetween 1980 and 1990, most state and federal courts moved from giving the judge wide discretion in sentencing toward mandatory sentencingIn many cases, a combination of the seriousness of the crime and the offender’s past history pin down the exact punishment.Much of the increase in the prison population is traced to mandatory sentencing in drug cases.In recent years, due partly to overcrowded prisons and rising costs, there’s been some blowback.Michigan and Louisiana recently moved from mandatory sentencing back to discretionary sentencingMississippi, which abolished discretionary parole in 1995, brought it back for nonviolent first-time offendersEighteen other states have passed some sort of sentencing reforms.
33 Why did U.S. crime rate fall in 1990s? Sharp drop in crime rate in U.S. in 1990sSeveral explanations:deterrence and incapacitationdecline of crack cocaine, which had driven much of crime in 1980seconomic boommore precaution by victimschange in policing strategiesDonohue and Levitt give a different explanation: abortion
34 Why did U.S. crime rate fall in 1990s? Donohue and LevittU.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in early 1973Number of legal abortions ~ 1,000,000/year (compared to birth rate of 3,000,000)Violent crimes largely committed by males of certain agesDonohue and Levitt argue legalized abortion led to smaller “cohort” of people in high-crime age group starting in early 1990sEvidence:Most of drop was reduction in crimes committed by young peopleFive states legalized abortion three years before Roe v Wade, saw drop in crime rates begin earlierStates with higher abortion rates in late 1970s and early 1980s had more dramatic drops in crime from 1985 to 1997, no difference beforeArgue this explains 50% of drop in crime in 1990sHalf of that from cohort size, half from compositionThe U.S. supreme court legalized abortion in early 1973The number of legal abortions was on the scale of 1,000,000 a year (rising to 1.6 million by 1980), which is quite significant relative to a birth rate around 3,000,000 per yearViolent crimes are largely committed by males of certain ages; Donohue and Levitt argue that legalized abortion led to a smaller “cohort” of people in the high-crime age group starting in the early 1990s.(A quick aside: birth rates, both total and relative to population, were indeed lower from 1973 to 1978 than they had been in previous yearsHowever, they had been dropping steadily well before 1973.Birth rates, both total and relative to population, were already substantially lower in the late 1960s and early 1970s than they had been in the 50s and early 60sBirth rate in 1972 was the lowest it had been since 1950, when population was much smaller.So even if the demographics of adolescent youth were a large part of the drop in crime, that’s not necessarily a direct result of legalized abortion.)Donohue and Levitt do offer some interesting evidence in support of their hypothesisFirst, most of the drop in crime rate was due to a drop in crimes committed by that age cohort – that is, the crime rates among “older” people did not fall in the 1990sSecond, five states legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade; the drop in crime rates began earlier in those five states than in the rest of the countryAnd states with higher abortion rates in the late 1970s and early 1980s did seem to have more dramatic drops in crime from 1985 to 1997, but no different crime patterns before that pointDonohue and Levitt argue that legalized abortion explains 50% of the drop in crime in the 1990sof this 50%, half is due to its effect on the size of the cohort (just a reduction in the population of the high-crime age group)and the other half due to its composition: that those children not born were more likely to have been born to teenage mothers, single mothers, and the poor, and were therefore disproportionately likely to become criminalsObviously a controversial finding, and not totally conclusive, but interesting
35 Thursday…Model of criminal law, what does efficient criminal system look like?
36 Second midterm Mean 73, median 74.5, std dev 12 Again, in very approximate terms…> 80 roughly AB or Aroughly Broughly BCbelow 60 roughly C or worselast names A-L last names M-Z
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