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Waiting to Execute: An Optimal Stopping Model of Capital Punishment Stays


  • Catherine M. Chambers

    (Central Missouri State University)

  • Paul E. Chambers

    () (Department of Economics and Finance, Central Missouri State University)


The focus of this paper is on a specific component of the capital punishment debate: delays in capital punishment. Although the legal justifications for delays in capital punishment cases, such as the right of the writ of habeas corpus, are well known, the analysis of the economic costs and benefits of delaying executions is limited. Fluctuations in the political consensus regarding capital punishment and resulting changes in the imposition of the death penalty in practice suggest that such costs and benefits are important to policymakers. The employment of option value theory is useful when considering the implementation of the death penalty because it involves an action that has uncertain net benefits and that is irreversible.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine M. Chambers & Paul E. Chambers, 2004. "Waiting to Execute: An Optimal Stopping Model of Capital Punishment Stays," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 259-272, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:30:y:2004:i:2:p:259-272

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    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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