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Crystal S. Yang, Resource Constraints and the Criminal Justice System: Evidence From Judicial Vacancies, 8 AEJ: Econ. Pol'y 289 (2016).

Abstract: Ten percent of federal judgeships are currently vacant, yet little is known on the impact of these vacancies on criminal justice outcomes. Using judge deaths and pension eligibility as instruments for vacancies, I find that prosecutors dismiss more cases during vacancies. Prosecuted defendants are more likely to plead guilty and less likely to be incarcerated during vacancies, with defendants who are detained pretrial more likely to be incarcerated. The current rate of vacancies has resulted in 1,000 fewer prison inmates annually compared to a fully-staffed court system, a 1.5 percent decrease.