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Courts Delays and Crime Deterrence (An Application to Crimes Against Property in Italy)

Lucia Dalla Pellegrina

No 20070403, Working Papers from Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento di Statistica

Abstract: Using Italian data in the period 1999-2002, we estimate the impact of trials delay on the willingness to commit crimes against property. However, the endogenous relationship that links the former to the latter could generate serious problems of inconsistency in the estimation procedure. Since geographical distance can be considered an exogenous determinant of the probability of belonging to peripheral courts, which are typically considered less efficient than main ones, it should represent a valid candidate instrument for trials delay. Estimates obtained by means of Two- Stages Least Squares show a significant positive effect of trials duration on crimes, supporting the hypothesis that some criminals are either sensitive to the discounting process of punishment or aware of the probability of prescription, or both. As a side result, we also find a relationship between courts' fragmentation and trials duration. This suggests that an optimal dimension of courts is likely to exist, and that policy makers should take this into consideration in the design of the jurisdictional geography.

Keywords: Illegal Behavior; enforcement of Law; Criminal Law. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K14 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 35 pages
Date: 2007-04, Revised 2007-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law
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