Institutional Requirements for Effective Imposition of Fines
AbstractA long theoretical literature in economics addresses the heavy reliance of the U.S. criminal justice system on very expensive forms of punishment – prison – when cheaper alternatives – such as fines and other sanctions – are available. This paper analyzes the role of fines as a criminal sanction within the existing institutional structure of criminal justice agencies, modeling heterogeneity in how people respond to various sanctions and threat of sanctions. From research on the application of fines in the U.S., we conclude that fines are economical only in relation to other forms of punishment; for many crimes fines will work well for the majority of offenders but fail miserably for a significant minority; that fines present a number of very significant administrative challenges; and that the political economy of fine imposition and collection is complex. Despite these facts, and with the caveats that jurisdictions vary tremendously and that there are large gaps in our knowledge about them, we build a model showing that it is possible to expand the use of fines as a criminal sanction if institutional structures are developed with these concerns in mind.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16476.
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Anne Morrison Piehl, Geoffrey Williams. "Institutional Requirements for Effective Imposition of Fines," in Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig, Justin McCrary, editors, "Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs" University of Chicago Press (2011)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Anne Morrison Piehl & Geoffrey Williams, 2010. "Institutional Requirements for Effective Imposition of Fines," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 95-121 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Piehl, Anne Morrison, 2002. "From Cell to Street: A Plan to Supervise Inmates after Release," Working Paper Series rwp02-005, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- repec:pri:indrel:868 is not listed on IDEAS
- Garoupa, Nuno, 2001.
"Optimal magnitude and probability of fines,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1765-1771, October.
- Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.