Research

Working Papers:

Juvenile Curfew Laws and Adult Contact with the Criminal Justice System [JMP]

Juvenile curfew laws restrict when adolescents are allowed to be in public spaces. This paper studies the long-term effect of exposure to a juvenile curfew on adult crime by exploiting a kink in exposure to a curfew based on variation in the age a curfew applies and the date a curfew is enacted. I first focus on a statewide curfew implemented as part of Texas's graduated licensing program, which prevents individuals under 18 from driving after midnight. Using administrative court records, I find that extending the evening curfew to 18 leads to an increase in the number of adults exposed to the criminal justice system. I next exploit a unique feature of how the San Antonio curfew was enacted to separate the effect of youth staying home from the effect of youth obtaining a citation for violating curfew. I present evidence that curfews reduce risky behavior by keeping teens home at night and preventing them from engaging in illicit activity; at the same time, enforcing the curfew creates a criminal record that increases future contact with the criminal justice system.

The New Parole: Electronic Monitoring of Sex Offenders in the Digital Era

A series of laws passed in the 2000s drastically limited both the physical and online presence of sex offenders as conditions of parole. In this study, I exploit state-level variation in the passage of three types of legal restrictions for sex offenders: (1) social media restrictions, requiring disclosure of all internet identifiers or banning the use of any social media site; (2) electronic monitoring that can track movement in real-time; and (3) residency restrictions preventing registered sex offenders from residing within X feet of places where children congregate.

Policing and Prosecuting Drug Offenses in Nashville: Drug Free School Zones

with Aria Golestani and Yoonjung Kim

Drug free school zones (DFSZs) increase penalties for drug crimes committed near schools or places where children gather. In this study, we utilize a unique data set to estimate the causal effect of DFSZ enhancements on court sentencing outcomes in Nashville, TN. We exploit the variation of arrestees’ location and use the instrumental variable two-stage least squares estimator to study the causal effect of being charged with the DFSZ enhancement. Our estimates suggest that being charged with the DFSZ enhancement increases the likelihood of an individual being found guilty by 11 percentage points and increases the sentence length by roughly 1 year. Notably, we find that enhancement charges against eligible offenders are more likely to be applied to Black arrestees than White arrestees, leading to lasting impacts across races in sentencing outcomes.

Bad Samaritan Laws: Do Duty-to-Report Laws Increase Credibility for Sexual Assault Survivors?

Bad Samaritan Laws (BSLs) impose punishment, either in the form of a monetary fine or misdemeanor offense, on citizens who fail to report a crime that they know has occurred or might be occurring. This study evaluates the effectiveness of BSLs in Ohio and Texas at improving outcomes for reporting incidents of rape. The study finds suggestive evidence that BSLs may increase reporting in the overall population. Furthermore, conditional on a report being made, arrest rates increase after the enactment of BSLs - an effect that is primarily driven by incidents that occur between family members, but also by friends and neighbors. Evidence supports a potential mechanism of BSLs increasing the probability of a witness being found, which facilitates arrests without jeopardizing the due process of law.

Works in Progress:

Racial Disparities and Policing Oversight: Evidence from an Early Intervention System with Emily Owens

The Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) Racial Disparities in Policing with Emily Owens


Policy Reports

RIPA in the Los Angeles Police Department

with Emily Owens

California Policy Lab: October 27, 2020

California passed the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) in 2015, requiring all police to record and analyze all enforcement contacts with civilians. This report utilizes RIPA data to analyze racially disparate police-civilian contact within similar neighborhoods of Los Angeles, with the aim of enhancing the LAPD's understanding of their current practices and potential avenues they could pursue to alleviate these disparities. Using a descriptive approach, two stylized facts emerge. First, racially disparate search rates are a result of both discretionary officer-level decisions as well as non-discretionary practices encouraged at the command-staff level. Second, the racial composition of suspects known to the LAPD diverges from the racial composition of victims to an unexpected degree. The optimal choice of benchmark to identify racial bias requires further investigation.

See the full report here.

California Highway Patrol: An Evaluation of Public Contacts in Stop Data

with Emily Owens

California Policy Lab: October 11, 2021

In order to better understand the role that race or ethnicity may play in who is stopped by their officers, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) provided the California Policy Lab (CPL) with a data set on the enforcement stops (or stops to enforce potential violations of the law) made by the CHP. In addition to enforcement stops, the CHP also collects identical data each time an officer interacts with civilians for non-enforcement reasons, including aiding a disabled motorist, responding to a crash, or other motorist services. This is the first report that we know of which utilizes non-enforcement stops to contextualize disparities in enforcement stops. We use two generally accepted approaches to measure racially disparate policing: benchmarking and a hit rate analysis. We find that racial disparities in stop rates generally persist across multiple benchmarks, but the degree of racial disparities is largely reduced when using non-enforcement stops as a benchmark rather than a more traditional benchmark of the residential population. We also find that CHP officers may be more likely to stop Black and Asian drivers than White drivers engaged in otherwise similar behavior based on a modified hit rate analysis.

See the full report here.