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A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders

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  • Miceli Thomas J.

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Bucci Catherine

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

A feature of many penal codes is that punishments are more severe for repeat offenders, yet economic models have had a hard time providing a theoretical justification for this practice. This paper offers an explanation based on the wage penalty suffered by individuals convicted of crime. While this penalty probably deters some first-timers from committing crimes, it actually hampers deterrence of repeat offenders because of their diminished employment opportunities. We show that in this setting, an escalating penalty scheme is optimal and time consistent.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Review of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 71-80

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:1:y:2005:i:1:n:5

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References

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  1. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
  2. Cooter, Robert D., 1991. "Lapses, conflict, and akrasia in torts and crimes: Towards an economic theory of the will," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 149-164, September.
  3. Winand Emons, 2002. "Subgame Perfect Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Diskussionsschriften dp0211, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  4. Daniel Nagin & Joel Waldfogel, 1993. "The Effect of Convicton on Income Through the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 4551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chu, C. Y. Cyrus & Hu, Sheng-cheng & Huang, Ting-yuan, 2000. "Punishing repeat offenders more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 127-140, March.
  6. Winand Emons, 2001. "A Note on the Optimal Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Diskussionsschriften dp0104, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  7. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
  8. Burnovski, Moshe & Safra, Zvi, 1994. "Deterrence effects of sequential punishment policies: Should repeat offenders be more severely punished?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 341-350, September.
  9. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1998. "On offense history and the theory of deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 305-324, September.
  10. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "An Attempt at Measuring the Total Monetary Penalty from Drug Convictions: The Importance of an Individual's Reputation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 159-87, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Alfred Endres & Bianca Rundshagen, 2012. "Escalating penalties: a supergame approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 29-49, March.
  2. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment," Working papers 2009-16, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2005. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Discussion Papers 05-004, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterrence and Incapacitation Models of Criminal Punishment: Can the Twain Meet?," Working papers 2009-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  5. Derek Pyne, 2010. "When is it efficient to treat juvenile offenders more leniently than adult offenders?," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 351-371, November.
  6. Tim Friehe, 2009. "Escalating penalties for repeat offenders: a note on the role of information," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 97(2), pages 165-183, June.
  7. Mungan, Murat C., 2010. "Repeat offenders: If they learn, we punish them more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 173-177, June.
  8. Langlais, Eric, 2009. "les criminels aiment-ils le risque ?
    [Are criminals risk-seeking individulas ?]
    ," MPRA Paper 14892, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.
  10. Philip A. Curry & Matthew Doyle, 2012. "Social Welfare and the Benefits to Crime," Working Papers 1205, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2012.
  11. Thomas J. Miceli, 2012. "Escalating Interest in Escalating Penalties," Working papers 2012-08, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  12. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Repeat Offenders," Working papers 2008-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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