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The Lethal Effects of Three‐Strikes Laws

Thomas B. Marvell and Carlisle E. Moody
The Journal of Legal Studies
Vol. 30, No. 1 (January 2001), pp. 89-106
DOI: 10.1086/468112
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/468112
Page Count: 18
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The Lethal Effects of Three‐Strikes Laws
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Abstract

Abstract Three‐strikes laws provide very long prison terms for certain criminals with prior convictions of serious violent crimes. It is likely that the laws increase homicides because a few criminals, fearing the enhanced penalties, murder victims and witnesses to limit resistance and identification. With a state‐level multiple‐time‐series design, we find that the laws are associated with 10–12 percent more homicides in the short run and 23–29 percent in the long run. The impact occurs in almost all 24 states with three‐strikes laws. Furthermore, there is little evidence that the laws have any compensating crime reduction impact through deterrence or incapacitation.

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