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Punishing the Innocent along with the Guilty: The Economics of Individual versus Group Punishment

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  • Thomas J. Miceli
  • Kathleen Segerson

Abstract

Standard models of law enforcement involve the apprehension and punishment of a single suspect, but in many contexts, punishment is imposed on an entire group known to contain the offender. The advantages of group punishment are that the offender is punished with certainty and detection costs are saved. The disadvantage is that innocent individuals are punished. We compare individual and group punishment when social welfare depends on fairness (or retribution) and when it depends on deterrence. We show that group punishment may dominate in the former case if the detection technology is ineffective but never in the latter case. The results broadly reflect the actual use of group punishment in ancient and modern law.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 81-106

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:36:y:2007:p:81-106

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  1. Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Corporate criminal law and organization incentives: A managerial perspective," Economics Working Papers 529, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  3. Varian, H.R., 1989. "Monitoring Agents With Other Agents," Papers 89-18, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
  5. Steven Shavell, 1983. "Uncertainty Over Causation and the Determination of Civil Liability," NBER Working Papers 1219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Harris, John R, 1970. "On the Economics of Law and Order," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-74, Jan.-Feb..
  7. Peter S. Menell, 1991. "The Limitations of Legal Institutions for Addressing Environmental Risks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 93-113, Summer.
  8. Xepapadeas, A. P., 1991. "Environmental policy under imperfect information: Incentives and moral hazard," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 113-126, March.
  9. Segerson, Kathleen, 1988. "Uncertainty and incentives for nonpoint pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 87-98, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Parisi & Jonathan Klick & Nuno Garoupa, 2006. "A Law and Economics Perspective on Terrorism," Working Papers 2006-09, FEDEA.
  2. Fatas, Enrique & Morales, Antonio J. & Ubeda, Paloma, 2010. "Blind justice: An experimental analysis of random punishment in team production," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 358-373, June.
  3. Mourad Ali & Patrick Rio, 2009. "Deterrence vs. Efficiency To Regulate Nonpoint Source Pollution," Working Papers 09-22, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Dec 2009.
  4. Camacho-Cuena, Eva & Requate, Till, 2012. "The regulation of non-point source pollution and risk preferences: An experimental approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 179-187.
  5. Rousseau, Sandra, 2009. "The use of warnings in the presence of errors," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 191-201, September.
  6. Thomas J. Miceli, 2013. "Collective Responsibility," Working papers 2013-23, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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