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On Punishment Severity and Crime Rates

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  • Tim Friehe
  • Thomas J. Miceli

Abstract

Punishment severity and crime rates vary across jurisdictions. Some countries have punitive sanctions and nevertheless experience relatively high crime rates. This article explores potential sources of the interjurisdictional heterogeneity in the optimal law enforcement model, paying particular attention to the possibility that the high crime despite high sanctions outcome can be socially optimal. The key conceptual issue is the interaction between detection efforts of enforcers and avoidance efforts of offenders.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Friehe & Thomas J. Miceli, 2017. "On Punishment Severity and Crime Rates," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 464-485.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:19:y:2017:i:2:p:464-485.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahx017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1995. "Corruptible Law Enforcers: How Should They Be Compensated?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 145-159, January.
    2. 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.
    3. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Criminal Sentencing Guidelines And Judicial Discretion," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 207-215, April.
    4. Eric Langlais, 2008. "Detection Avoidance and Deterrence: Some Paradoxical Arithmetic," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(3), pages 371-382, June.
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    6. Eberhard Feess & Markus Walzl, 2004. "Self-reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement when there are Criminal Teams," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(283), pages 333-348, August.
    7. Louis Hotte & Tanguy van Ypersele, 2008. "Individual protection against property crime: decomposing the effects of protection observability," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(2), pages 537-563, May.
    8. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1992. "Optimal Sanctions When Individuals Are Imperfectly Informed about the Probability of Apprehension," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 365-370, June.
    9. Lacroix Guy & Narceau Nicolas, 1995. "Private Protection against Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 72-87, January.
    10. Éric Langlais & Marie Obidzinski, 2017. "Law Enforcement with a Democratic Government," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 162-201.
    11. Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
    12. Harris, John R, 1970. "On the Economics of Law and Order," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-174, Jan.-Feb..
    13. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-295, September.
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    More about this item

    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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