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Justifying Imprisonment: On the Optimality of Excessively Costly Punishment

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  • Abraham L. Wickelgren

Abstract

The criminal punishment literature has focused on justifying nonmaximal punishments and the use of nonmonetary sanctions. It has not addressed why imprisonment, rather than cheaper forms of corporal punishment, should be the dominant type of nonmonetary sanctions. David Friedman (1999) recently hypothesized that, because convicts lack political influence, it is desirable to make punishment costlier than necessary to prevent policy makers from excessively punishing convicts. This article explicitly models this hypothesis and uses simulations to determine under what circumstances this hypothesis justifies using imprisonment rather than cheaper nonmonetary sanctions. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

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  • Abraham L. Wickelgren, 2003. "Justifying Imprisonment: On the Optimality of Excessively Costly Punishment," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 377-411, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:5:y:2003:i:2:p:377-411
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    Cited by:

    1. D’Antoni, Massimo & Galbiati, Roberto, 2007. "A signaling theory of nonmonetary sanctions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 204-218.
    2. Bryane Michael (Linacre College), "undated". "Drafting Implementing Regulations for International Anti-Corruption Conventions," QEH Working Papers qehwps150, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.

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