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Penalty Enhancement for Hate Crimes: An Economic Analysis

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  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    (Univeristy of Connecticut)

  • Nuno Garoupa

    (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Abstract

The issue of bias-motivated crimes has attracted consderable attention in recent years. In this paper, we develop an economic framework to analyze penalty enhancements for bias-motivated crimes. We extend the standard model by introducing two different groups of potential victims of crime, and assume that a potential offender's benefits from a crime depend on the group to which the victim belongs. We begin with the assumption that the harm to an individual victim from a bias-motivated crime is identical to that from an equivalent non-hate crime. Nonetheless, we derive the result that a pattern of crimes disproportionately targeting an identifiable group leads to greater social harm. This conclusion follows both from a model where disparities in groups' victimization probabilities lead to social losses due to fairness concerns, as well as a model where potential victims have the opportunity to undertake socially costly victimization avoidance activities. In particular, penalty enhancements can reduce the incentives for avoidance activity, and thereby protect the networks of profitable interactions that link members of different groups. We also argue that those groups that are covered by hate crime statutes tend to be those whose characteristics make it especially likely that penalty enhancement is socially optimal. Finally, we consider a number of other issues related to hate crimes, including teh choice of sanctions from behind a Rawlsian 'veil of ignorance' concerning group identity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2002-12.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-12

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Keywords: law enforcement; hate crimes;

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References

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  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Nuno Garoupa, 2001. "Optimal law enforcement when victims are rational players," Economics of Governance, Springer, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 231-242, November.
  4. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1997. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," NBER Working Papers 6259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Garoupa, Nuno & Obidzinski, Marie, 2006. "The Scope of Punishment: An Economic Theory of Harm-Based vs. Act-Based Sanctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5899, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Cesar Alonso & Nuno Garoupa & Marcelo Perera & Pablo Vazquez, 2008. "Immigration and Crime in Spain, 1999-2006," Working Papers 2008-34, FEDEA.
  3. Nuno Garoupa, 2003. "Behavioral Economic Analysis of Crime: A Critical Review," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 5-15, January.
  4. Philip A. Curry & Matthew Doyle, 2012. "Social Welfare and the Benefits to Crime," Working Papers 1205, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2012.
  5. Guererk, Oezguer & Rockenbach, Bettina & Wolff, Irenaeus, 2010. "The effects of punishment in dynamic public-good games," MPRA Paper 22097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Ehud Guttel & Barak Medina, 2007. "Less Crime, More (Vulnerable) Victims: Game Theory and the Distributional Effects of Criminal Sanctions," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001799, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Ehud Guttel & Barak Medina, 2007. "Less Crime, More (Vulnerable) Victims: Game Theory and the Distributional Effects of Criminal Sanctions," Discussion Paper Series, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem dp472, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  8. Carbonara, Emanuela & Pasotti, Piero, 2010. "Social dynamics and minority protection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 317-328, December.

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