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Escalating Interest in Escalating Penalties

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  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Escalating penalties for repeat offenders are a pervasive feature of punishment schemes in a variety of contexts. Economic theory has had a hard time rationalizing this practice, however, because setting the penalty equal to the social cost of an act should achieve optimal deterrence irrespective of the offender’s record. This paper reviews the literature on escalating penalties, and then develops a theory based on uncertainty on the part of enforcers about offenders’ gains from committing socially undesirable acts. The analysis derives the conditions under which escalating penalties are both optimal (cost minimizing) and subgame perfect. JEL Classification: K14, K42 Key words: Criminal punishment, escalating penalties, repeat offenders

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2012-08.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2012-08

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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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References

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  1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1980. "On an anomaly of the deterrent effect of punishment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 89-94.
  2. Emons, Winand, 2003. "A note on the optimal punishment for repeat offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 253-259, September.
  3. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "A Model of Optimal Incapacitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 107-10, May.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  5. Emons, Winand, 2007. "Escalating penalties for repeat offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 170-178.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Nuno Garoupa, 2004. "Dynamic Law Enforcement with Learning," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 192-206, April.
  9. BRYAN C. McCANNON, 2009. "Differentiating Between First And Repeat Offenses," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 76-85, 01.
  10. Miceli Thomas J. & Bucci Catherine, 2005. "A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 71-80, April.
  11. 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.
  12. Miceli, Thomas J., 2010. "A model of criminal sanctions that incorporate both deterrence and incapacitation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 205-207, May.
  13. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Criminal Sentencing Guidelines And Judicial Discretion," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 207-215, 04.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Funk, Patricia, 2004. "On the effective use of stigma as a crime-deterrent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 715-728, August.
  17. Baik, Kyung Hwan & Kim, In-Gyu, 2001. "Optimal punishment when individuals may learn deviant values," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 271-285, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.

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