Deterrence and Incapacitation: Towards a Unified Theory of Criminal Punishment
AbstractEconomic models of crime have focused primarily on the goal of deterrence; the goal of incapacitation has received much less attention. This paper adapts the standard deterrence model to incorporate incapacitation. When prison only is used, incapacitation can result in a longer or a shorter optimal prison term compared to the deterrence-only model. It is longer if there is underdeterrence, and shorter if there is overdeterrence. In contrast, when a fine is available and it is not constrained by the offender's wealth, the optimal prison term is zero. Since the fine achieves first-best deterrence, only efficient crimes are committed and hence, there is no gain from incapacitation.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2009-11.
Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
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Career criminals; deterrence; incapacitation; law enforcement;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- 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
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