Working Papers

“Concealed Carry Laws and Fatal Police Encounters”, Submitted (Job Market Paper) 

Presentations: American Economic Association meetings (2020), Southern Economic Association (2019)

Violent encounters between police and civilians are an important policy issue, and policymakers are eager to find ways to reduce them–particularly the unnecessary use of police force. One reason that officers may be quick to use force is fear for their personal safety, which may increase in environments with more civilian gun carriers. In this paper, I consider the effect of concealed carry laws on violent police encounters. Studying the staggered rollout of lenient concealed carry laws in the United States, I find suggestive evidence that as gun laws become more lenient, officers assaults rise. Under the most lenient gun laws, fatal police shootings of civilian increase–disproportionately affecting minorities–coupled with an indication that fewer police are killed in action. These findings emphasize the role of gun laws in the risks that officers face on the job and, in turn, their use of force against civilians. 

The Day After the Recall: Policing and Prosecution in San Francisco, with Lauren Schechter and Dvir Yogev

Prosecutors' policies and decisions are often the subjects of high-profile political debates and research studies on crime and recidivism. However, the effect of prosecutor policies on crime can be confounded by any simultaneous changes in police behavior. In this paper, we explore the effect of a contentious relationship between a local District Attorney and the corresponding police department during a political campaign to recall the DA. With policing, prosecution, and jail data from San Francisco, we use a regression kink in time design to study how local prosecutor politics affect police behavior. We find that police increase their effort after the "unfriendly" district attorney is recalled, resulting in an immediate increase in the local jail population. Our findings illustrate the importance of accounting for police departments' responses to prosecutorial politics when considering the effects of prosecutor policies on crime.

Work in Progress

“Recreational Marijuana Laws, Inmate Composition, and Recidivism” (Draft coming soon)

Presentations: Western Economic Association International (2023)

Recent efforts in the criminal justice system aim to improve its effectiveness and fairness. Policy reforms have focused on areas such as drug policy, prioritization according to the seriousness of cases, as well as exploring alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent crimes. A possible unintended consequence of these policies is that the decrease in admission of low-level offenders in correctional facilities can change the composition of inmates and very likely create a more hostile incarceration experience. To explore this possibility I leverage the staggered decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana at the state level. These laws result in fewer low-level criminals being incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes and potentially more violent offenders taking their place. Using offender-level data, this paper examines the effects of marijuana laws on the composition of inmates and analyzes how these changes in the prison population affect recidivism rates.

The Effect of Violence Against Police on Policing Behavior, with CarlyWill Sloan

Political Accountability, Bureaucracy, and Criminal Justice: Evidence from North Carolina”, with Felipe Diaz and Alok Ranjan

Guns, Crime, and Hetereogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of Right-to-Carry Laws”,  with Ryan Quandt

Prosecution Research Initiative, with Amanda Agan, Anna Harvey, and Lauren Schechter 

An ongoing, multi-year project with $1,000,000 funding, in partnership with several large district attorneys' offices, using detailed administrative case data to study the effects of prosecutors' policies and decision making on recidivism, public safety, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“Recreational Marijuana Laws, Police Performance, and Racial Disparities” 

Presentations: Southern Economic Association (2020)