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Time-Consistent Criminal Sanctions

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Author Info

  • BOADWAY, Robin

    (Queen's University)

  • MARCEAU, Nicolas

    (Universite Laval)

  • MARCHAND, Maurice

    (CORE, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Abstract

A classic argument in the theory of crime is that optimal enforcement policy should involve maximal sanctions and no crime. Yet this is rarely observed in the real world. We argue that one reason for this has to do with the time inconsistency of such a policy. If sanctions are only applied after a crime has been committed, the enforcement authority may be reluctant to impose a high sanction since it will no longer have any deterrent effect. We show in a simple one period setting that if the enforcement authority can commit to its announced sanctions, the classic result is obtained. However, if the enforcement authority cannot commit, a minimal sanction with no deterrence is obtained. These extreme outcomes can be avoided in a setting in which crimes and enforcement occur repeatedly and the authority is able to build a reputation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 1994010.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 1994
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1994010

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Cited by:
  1. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2000. "The Optimality of Punishing Only the Innocent: The Case of Tax Evasion," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 7(6), pages 641-664, December.
  2. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 1999. "Costly Sanctions and the Maximum Penalty Principle," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 100, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  3. M. Martin Boyer, 2001. "Resistance is Futile: An Essay in Crime and Commitment," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-58, CIRANO.
  4. Joanne Roberts, 2000. "Plea Bargaining with Budgetary Constraints and Deterrence," Working Papers jorob-00-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  5. Jost, Peter-J, 2001. "Crime, coordination, and punishment: An economic analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 23-46, March.
  6. Suurmond, Guido, 2007. "The effects of the enforcement strategy," MPRA Paper 21142, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. De Geest, Gerrit & Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Siegers, Jacques J., 2009. "Annullable bonuses and penalties," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 349-359, December.
  8. Matthew Baker & Thomas Miceli, 2005. "Credible Criminal Enforcement," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 5-15, July.
  9. Marceau, Nicolas & Mongrain, Steeve, 1999. "Dissuader le crime : un survol," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 123-147, mars-juin.
  10. Luigi Alberto Franzoni, 1995. "Prosecutorial Discretion and Criminal Deterrence," Working Papers 234, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

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