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A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes

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  • Mungan, Murat C.

Abstract

The standard two-period law enforcement model is considered in a setting where individuals usually, but not exclusively, commit crimes only after comparing expected costs and benefits. Where escalating punishment schemes are present, there is an inherent value in keeping a clean criminal record; a person with a record may unintentionally become a repeat offender if he fails to exert self-control, and be punished more severely. If the punishment for repeat offenders is sufficiently high, one may rationally forgo the opportunity of committing a profitable crime today to avoid being sanctioned as a repeat offender in the future. Therefore, partial deterrence can be achieved at a very low cost through the use of escalating penalties, providing a behavioral justification for punishing repeat offenders more severely.

Suggested Citation

  • Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:37:y:2014:i:c:p:189-197
    DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2013.10.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Funk, Patricia, 2004. "On the effective use of stigma as a crime-deterrent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 715-728, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:irlaec:v:57:y:2019:i:c:p:12-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mungan, Murat C., 2017. "The certainty versus the severity of punishment, repeat offenders, and stigmatization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 126-129.
    3. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:5:p:467-482 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    D03; K00; K10; K14; K40; K42; Lapse; Weak-will; Recidivism; Repeat offenders; Law enforcement; Deterrence; Escalating penalties;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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