Deterring domestic violence: Do criminal sanctions reduce repeat offenses?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This study presents an empirical analysis of domestic violence case resolution in North Carolina for the years 2004 to 2010. The key hypothesis is that penalties at the level set for domestic violence crimes reduce recidivism (re-arrest on domestic violence charges or conviction in 2 years following an index arrest). We use state court data for all domestic violence-related arrests. Decisions to commit an act of domestic violence are based on a Bayesian process of updating subjective beliefs. Individuals have prior beliefs about penalties for domestic violence based on actual practice in their areas. An individual's experience with an index arrest leads to belief updating. To address endogeneity of case outcomes, we use an instrumental variables strategy based on decisions of prosecutors and judges assigned to each index arrest in our sample. Contrary to our hypothesis, we find that penalities, at least as set at the current levels, do not deter future arrests and convictions. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sloan, FA; Platt, AC; Chepke, LM; Blevins, CE

Published Date

  • February 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 46 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 51 - 80

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0476

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0895-5646

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11166-012-9159-z

Citation Source

  • Scopus