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Wolfers, Justin and John Donohue. 2005. Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate. Stanford Law Review (2005) 58:791-846

Levitt, Steven (2004)  "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors That Explain the Decline and Six That Do Not." Journal of Economic Perspectives v. 18, n. 1 (Winter 2004): 163-90.

Donohue, John and Levitt, Steven (2001)  "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime." Quarterly Journal of Economics, (May):379-420.

DiIulio, John J, Jr. (1996)  "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10 (1), p.3:24.

Helland, E. and A. Tabarrok. 2004. The Fugitive: Evidence on Public versus Private Law Enforcement from Bail Jumping. Journal of Law and Economics XLVII (1): 83-122.

ABSTRACT: After being arrested and booked, most felony defendants are released to await trial.  On the day of the trial, a substantial percentage fail to appear. If the failure to appear is not quickly explained, warrants are issued and two quite different systems of pursuit and rearrest are put into action.  Public police have the primary responsibility for pursuing and rearresting defendants who were released on their own recognizance or on cash or government bail.  Defendants who made bail by borrowing from a bond dealer, however, must worry about an entirely different pursuer.  When a defendant who has borrowed money skips trial, the bond dealer forfeits the bond unless the fugitive is soon returned.  As a result, bond dealers have an incentive to monitor their charges and ensure that they do not skip.  When a defendant does skip, bond dealers hire bail enforcement agents, more colloquially known as bounty hunters, to pursue and return the defendants to custody.  We compare the effectiveness of these two different systems by examining failure to appear rates, fugitive rates and capture rates of felony defendants who fall under the respective systems.  We apply propensity score and matching techniques.

Morgan O. Reynolds. 2000. Privatizing Probation and Parole  The National Center for Policy Analysis released a study on privatizing the nation's probation and parole system.  NCPA Policy Report No. 233 June 2000     ISBN #1-56808-089-1

ABSTRACT: Financial Bonds Could Reduce Parolee CrimeOne out of fifty adults free on the streets today is a convicted criminal released on probation or parole. That's 4.1 million people "under government supervision," and a majority are convicted felons. Some 50,000 government bureaucrats supervise these probationers and parolees.

The probation and parole systems have many problems, especially the fact that many of those released commit loathsome crimes. Criminals under government supervision commit 15 murders a day. Nearly four out of 10 people arrested for a felony crime are already out on probation, parole or pretrial release from a prior conviction or arrest. One in 10 probationers and parolees "abscond."

This year state and federal prisons will release 600,000 convicts, 38 percent more than in 1990. Most are released on parole or other supervision because they have not served their full sentence.

The probation and parole systems could be made more effective and efficient by enlisting the private sector. Here is one approach: Those released on probation or released early from prison could be required to post a financial bond guaranteeing behavior in accord with terms of the release. This would transfer the successful commercial principles of our bail system -- which allows most people who are arrested and charged with a crime to be released on bail pending trial -- to the probation and parole systems. Bail operates on the principle that the accused can go free once he guarantees his presence in court on a certain date by posting a significant sum of money. If he shows up, he gets his money back; if he doesn't, he suffers a major financial loss.

Harris county (Houston), Texas, operates a blended system of commercial bond posting and public supervision for pretrial releases with very good results, judging by a major drop in bench warrants issued for absconding. This amounts to partial privatization or contracting out an aspect of pretrial supervision to the private sector.

Source: Morgan Reynolds, "Privatizing Probation and Parole," Policy Study 233, June 2000, National Center for Policy Analysis.

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