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Paper Topic:

reserach critique


Kovandzic , Tomislav V , John J Sloan III , Lynne M Vieraitis . Striking Out as Crime Reduction Policy : The Impact of Three Strkes ' Laws on Crime Rates in U .S . Cities ' Justice Quarterly : JQ . Highland Heights June 2004 . Vol . 21 , Iss . 2 ,

. 207-239

Research Design

The study used a multiple time series (MTS ) design in evaluating whether `three strikes ' laws do in fact reduce most forms of serious personal (murder , rape , robbery , and aggravated assault ) and property (burglary and motor vehicle theft ) crime . Specifically , it examines the potential deterrent and

incapacitative effects of the laws on serious crime rates through the use of panel data collected for 188 U .S . cities (with populations of 100 ,000 or more ) from the period 1980-2000

The present study extends previous research in several ways (1 ) it includes numerous control variables in the statistical models to mitigate the problem of omitted variable bias (2 ) it utilized a longer post-intervention period in the models , to examine the potential incapacitative effects of the laws , which would unlikely appear until years after the laws had been passed and (3 ) it attempts to address the issue of simultaneity (i .e , rising crime rates may affect the passage and application of three strikes laws ) in the crime rate models

MTS is considered one of the strongest quasi-experimental research designs to evaluate the impact of criminal justice policy , its main advantage being that it allows the researcher to treat the passage of three strikes laws as a "natural experiment " - the 110 cities within the `three strikes ' states are considered as "treatment cities " and the 78 no-change cities as "controls

Specifically , the researchers compared observed changes in crime rates in the treatment cities (before and after three strike laws ) to observed changes in crime rates in the control cities . If three strikes laws reduced crime through deterrence and incapacitation then the treatment cities should experience an immediate drop in crime greater than the control cities at the time the laws were adopted , with an additional reduction spread out over time as offenders began serving the additional portion of their prison terms due to the three strikes sentence enhancement

Additional advantages of the MTS design include the ability to enter proxy variables for omitted variables that cause crime rates to vary across years and cities a larger sample size (n 3 ,320 or more ) to allow inclusion of numerous controls in the crime rate models for factors that might be correlated with other explanatory variables and may lead to spurious associations among these variables (Wooldridge 2000 and greater statistical power (given the large sample size ) which can detect more modest effects of three strikes laws on crime rates

Following convention for time-series cross-section data , the basic model employed is the fixed-effects model . This entails a dichotomous dummy variable for each city and year , except the first year and city , to avoid perfect collinearity (Hsiao , 1986 : 41-58 Pindyck Rubinfeld 1991 : 224-226 . The year and city dummies are an integral part of...

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