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Making the Punishment Fit the Crime or Taliban Justice? Optimal Penalties Without Commitment

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  • Parikshit Ghosh

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India)

Abstract

This paper argues that graduated penalties observed in most legal systems may be an attempt to direct law enforcement e orts towards crimes that are socially more harmful, thereby achieving better deterrence overall. The critical assumptions are-- the state cannot commit to a monitoring strategy, and has mixed motives (objectives other than deterrence). However, graduated penalties arise only in the presence of secondary motives that value punishment in itself, such as retribution or nes collected from violators. Other motives that are unrelated to the size of punishment, such as prevention of criminal attempts, will also lead to distortions, but those cannot be corrected by restructuring penalties. The overall harshness of a criminal justice system and the retributive instincts of its designers may be related in counter intuitive ways, and law enforcement may be improved through strategic delegation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics in its series Working papers with number 175.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:175

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Keywords: Commitment; crime; deterrence; retribution; graduated penalties.;

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References

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  1. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. repec:att:wimass:8908 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
  6. Wilde, Louis L., 1992. "Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 333-344, September.
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  8. Arun S. Malik, 1990. "Avoidance, Screening and Optimum Enforcement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 341-353, Autumn.
  9. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
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  11. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Celik, Gorkem & Sayan, Serdar, 2005. "To Give In or Not To Give In To Bribery? Setting the Optimal Fines for Violations of Rules when the Enforcers are Likely to Ask for Bribes," Microeconomics.ca working papers celik-05-08-03-12-50-26, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 06 Aug 2008.

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