The Sources of Agency: An Empirical Examination of United States Attorneys

51 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2000

See all articles by Richard T. Boylan

Richard T. Boylan

Rice University - Department of Economics

Cheryl Long

Colgate University - Economics Department

Date Written: December 13, 1999

Abstract

A theoretical model relates case mix, staffing, and monitoring to the likelihood of a plea agreement. Analysis of federal drug trafficking cases in fiscal years 1993 through 1996 leads to the following conclusions: There are fewer pleas in districts that are understaffed and are facing more severe crimes. Further, there are fewer pleas in United States Attorney districts with many or with few prosecutors, and there are more pleas in United States Attorney districts with an average number of prosecutors.

The explanation for the latter results is that prosecutors may take cases to trial to acquire human capital unless they are closely monitored. Estimation of the monitoring technology shows that it exhibits increasing returns to scale for small districts, and decreasing returns to scale for large districts. Given such a monitoring technology, the relationship between the number of monitors and the level of monitoring is consistent with an optimal allocation of resources between monitoring and prosecution.

JEL Classification: H11, H40, K14, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Boylan, Richard T. and Long, Cheryl Xiaoning, The Sources of Agency: An Empirical Examination of United States Attorneys (December 13, 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=200508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.200508

Richard T. Boylan (Contact Author)

Rice University - Department of Economics ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
United States

Cheryl Xiaoning Long

Colgate University - Economics Department ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States

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