The Morning After: Assessing the Effect of Major Terrorism Events on Prosecution Strategies and Outcomes

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A major terrorism event has several important consequences for officials involved in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist activities. Such events are likely to bring increased scrutiny by both public policy officials and the media. The article uses data from the American Terrorism Study to compare the period before and after two of the most dramatic terrorist events on U.S. soil: the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks. The results suggest that whether intentional or not, major terrorism events result in the government's pursuing cases that are generally less serious and less complicated, and those cases are treated much more like “traditional” crimes by the prosecution. Following the aftermath of a major event, terrorist defendants are more likely to behave like traditional offenders and are less likely to be convicted as a result of a trial than are terrorists who are indicted before major events.


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