Punishment and Crime: The Impact of Felony Conviction on Criminal Activity Punishment and Crime: The Impact of Felony Conviction on Criminal Activity

This paper examines the short-run and long-run effects of felony conviction on crime using increases in felony larceny thresholds as an exogenous, negative shock to felony conviction probability. A felony larceny threshold is the dollar value of stolen property that determines whether a larceny theft may be charged in court as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Felony larceny threshold policy helps states govern felony convictions, thereby regulating punishment severity.

The author focuses on the theft value distribution between old and new larceny thresholds. In theory, this “response region” is where, following enactment of a higher threshold, the incentives to commit larceny of a given stolen value amount increase the most, because that crime switches from being a felony to a misdemeanor.

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