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Jail or Fine - Let Them Choose

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  • Alexander Klein

    (University of Munich)

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    Abstract

    We reconsider two standard results of deterrence theory. The first states that there is no need for jail terms until monetary fines are not exhausted. The second says that there is no marginal deterrence without joint production in law enforcement. In a framework with asymmetric information about offenders' wealth however, neither result holds if one takes into account a commonly used instrument of law enforcement, namely to offer the convicted criminal the choice of either going to jail or paying a fine. The basic idea of our paper is that the fine can be adjusted such that only one of two types prefers it over the jail term. Thus, fine-jail-options serve as a screening device because they allow to deter both types independently although their wealth is private information.

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    File URL: http://fmwww.bc.edu/RePEc/es2000/0337.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 0337.

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    Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0337

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    1. Levitt, Steven D., 1997. "Incentive compatibility constraints as an explanation for the use of prison sentences instead of fines," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 179-192, June.
    2. Kenneth Avio, 1998. "The Economics of Prisons," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-175, September.
    3. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "The Optimal Use of Nonmonetary Sanctions as a Deterrent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 584-92, September.
    4. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "A note on the optimal use of nonmonetary sanctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 245-247, July.
    5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
    6. Shavell, Steven, 1992. "A note on marginal deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 345-355, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
    9. Friedman, David & Sjostrom, William, 1993. "Hanged for a Sheep--The Economics of Marginal Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 345-66, June.
    10. 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.
    11. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
    12. Chu, C. Y. Cyrus & Jiang, Neville, 1993. "Are fines more efficient than imprisonment?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 391-413, July.
    13. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1994. "Marginal Deterrence in Enforcement of Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1039-66, October.
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