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Deterrence and Incapacitation Models of Criminal Punishment: Can the Twain Meet?

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Author Info

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

The standard economic model of crime focuses on the goal of deterrence, but actual punishment schemes, most notably recent three-strikes laws, seem to rely more on imprisonment than is prescribed by that model. One explanation is that prison also serves an incapacitation function. The current paper seeks to develop an economic model of law enforcement that combines the deterrence and incapacitation motives for criminal punishment. The resulting hybrid model retains the rationality assumption that is the basis of the pure deterrence model, but assumes that offenders face repeated criminal opportunities over their lifetimes. In this setting, deterrence and incapacitation emerge naturally as complementary motivations for imposing criminal punishment.

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File URL: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/working/2009-25.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2009-25.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2009-25

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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Keywords: Deterrence; incapacitation; law enforcement; prison;

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  1. Lewin, Jeff L. & Trumbull, William N., 1990. "The social value of crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 271-284, December.
  2. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2005. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 11780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Levitt, Steven D. & Miles, Thomas J., 2007. "Empirical Study of Criminal Punishment," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  5. Winand Emons, 2002. "Subgame Perfect Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Diskussionsschriften dp0211, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  6. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "Market Structure and Innovation," Discussion Papers 256, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
  8. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1991. "A Model of Optimal Fines for Repeat Offenders," NBER Working Papers 3739, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "A Model of Optimal Incapacitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 107-10, May.
  11. Thomas J. Miceli & Catherine Bucci, 2004. "A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders," Working papers 2004-39, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-22, June.
  13. Lott, John R, Jr, 1987. "Should the Wealthy Be Able to "Buy Justice"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1307-16, December.
  14. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  15. Davis, Michael L, 1988. "Time and Punishment: An Intertemporal Model of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 383-90, April.
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