Three essays on crime policy and the Bayesian bootstrap
This dissertation consists of three chapters. In the first chapter, I analyze credible intervals for quantiles constructed using Bayesian bootstrap techniques and show that credible intervals constructed using the "continuity-corrected" Bayesian bootstrap (Banks, 1988) have frequentist coverage probability error of only O(n [superscript -1]). In addition, I show that these "continuity-corrected" Bayesian bootstrap credible intervals achieve the same frequentist coverage probability as the frequentist confidence intervals of Goldman and Kaplan (2017), up to some error term of magnitude O(n [superscript -1]). Furthermore, I demonstrate that credible intervals constructed using the "continuity-corrected" Bayesian bootstrap have less frequentist coverage probability error than those constructed using the Bayesian bootstrap (Rubin, 1981). In the second chapter, I investigate three strikes laws, which mandate sharply increased sentences for criminals who commit a specific number of felonies. Specifically, I analyze the effect of these laws on violent crime rates using municipal-level data from the FBI. I compare violent crime rates of border municipalities in states with differing treatment statuses using a difference-in-differences specification with a sample matched on pre-treatment outcomes. I find no statistical evidence that three strikes laws reduce violent crime rates. I rule out reductions in violent crime rates greater than 1.3 % and reject the hypothesis that three strikes laws reduce violent crime rates at the 5 % significance level. Additional analyses and robustness checks support my main findings. In the third chapter, I examine medical marijuana laws (MMLs), which legalize the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by individuals with qualifying medical conditions. Namely, I employ municipal-level data from the FBI to analyze the effect of MMLs on violent crime rates. I compare municipalities in border regions with different treatments statuses using a difference-in-differences specification with a sample matched on pre-treatment outcomes. I find a lack of evidence for MMLs increasing violent crime rates, but I cannot eliminate the possibility of small-to-medium positive effects. However, I rule out increases in violent crime rates greater than 9.9 % and reject the hypothesis that MMLs increase violent crime at the 10 % significance level.