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A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders

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  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Catherine Bucci

Abstract

A feature of many penal codes is that punishments are more severe for repeat offenders, yet economic models have had a hard time providing a theoretical justification for this practice. This paper offers an explanation based on the wage penalty suffered by individuals convicted of crime. While this penalty probably deters some first-timers from committing crimes, it actually hampers deterrence of repeat offenders because of their diminished employments opportunities. We show that in this setting, an escalating penalty scheme is optimal and time consistent.

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File URL: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/working/2004-39.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2004-39.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-39

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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Keywords: Criminal enforcement; repeat offenders;

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References

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  1. Chu, C. Y. Cyrus & Hu, Sheng-cheng & Huang, Ting-yuan, 2000. "Punishing repeat offenders more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 127-140, March.
  2. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "The Effect of Conviction on Income Through the Life Cycle," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-40, March.
  3. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
  4. Winand Emons, 2004. "Subgame-Perfect Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(3), pages 496-502, July.
  5. Winand Emons, 2001. "A Note on the Optimal Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Diskussionsschriften dp0104, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  6. Cooter, Robert D., 1991. "Lapses, conflict, and akrasia in torts and crimes: Towards an economic theory of the will," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 149-164, September.
  7. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
  8. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1998. "On offense history and the theory of deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 305-324, September.
  9. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "An Attempt at Measuring the Total Monetary Penalty from Drug Convictions: The Importance of an Individual's Reputation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 159-87, January.
  10. Burnovski, Moshe & Safra, Zvi, 1994. "Deterrence effects of sequential punishment policies: Should repeat offenders be more severely punished?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 341-350, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment," Working papers 2009-16, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2007. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  3. Alfred Endres & Bianca Rundshagen, 2012. "Escalating penalties: a supergame approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 29-49, March.
  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. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterrence and Incapacitation Models of Criminal Punishment: Can the Twain Meet?," Working papers 2009-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  6. Langlais, Eric, 2009. "les criminels aiment-ils le risque ?
    [Are criminals risk-seeking individulas ?]
    ," MPRA Paper 14892, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Tim Friehe, 2009. "Escalating penalties for repeat offenders: a note on the role of information," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 97(2), pages 165-183, June.
  8. Thomas J. Miceli, 2012. "Escalating Interest in Escalating Penalties," Working papers 2012-08, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  9. Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.
  10. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Repeat Offenders," Working papers 2008-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  11. Derek Pyne, 2010. "When is it efficient to treat juvenile offenders more leniently than adult offenders?," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 351-371, November.
  12. Mungan, Murat C., 2010. "Repeat offenders: If they learn, we punish them more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 173-177, June.

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