We examine the consequences of an organizational reform in Israel that transferred the responsibility for housing arrestees from the Police to the Prison Authority. Using the staggered introduction of the reform in different regions of the country, we document strong evidence that this organizational change led to an increase of 11 percent in the number of arrests and to a decrease of 4 percent in the number of reported crimes, with these effects concentrated in more minor crimes. The reform also led to a decrease in the quality of arrests, measured by the likelihood of being charged following an arrest. These findings are consistent with the idea that the reform externalized the cost of housing arrestees from the Police's perspective, and therefore led the Police to increase its activity against crime.
The authors explain
During the years 2007 and 2008 Israel undertook a large reform in the handling of arrestees and the management of jails. Prior to the reform, the Police was responsible for the transportation and the housing of arrestees. Arrestees were detained either in police stations or in jails that the Police operated and controlled. The Police was also responsible for transporting arrestees from jails to courts and back. When suspects were convicted, they were moved to prisons, which are controlled by the Prison Authority. Under the new arrangement, the Police was no longer responsible for housing arrestees or transporting them. Jail facilities were handed over ”as is” to the Prison Authority, and arrestees were no longer detained at police stations (except for a few hours). Twice a day, the Prison Authority’s transportation unit would pick up new arrestees from police stations and take them to jails or to courts. P. 6.
In general the reform has increased efficiency by allowing the police to focus more on crime persecution, and prison authorities on the management of arrests. The case shows that within the government it is possible to pursue more actively division of labor an especialization. In the conclusions the authors talk about other areas where that kind of reform can be implemented, such as hospitals.