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Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?


  • Lott, John R, Jr


Many critics believe that since high income criminals can afford to purchase better legal services they are less severely punished than poor criminals who commit equivalent crimes. Others are concerned that the penalties imposed on criminals are "too small." This paper shows that ignoring the effect conviction has on later earnings dramatically underestimates the total monetary penalty paid by those convicted and that the penalty structure is extremely progressive. Where evidence on the probability of conviction is available, it shows that the highest income criminals face the highest expected penalties. Copyright 1992 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 583-608, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:30:y:1992:i:4:p:583-608

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eckbo, B. Espen, 1983. "Horizontal mergers, collusion, and stockholder wealth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-4), pages 241-273, April.
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    3. Michael A. Salinger, 1988. "Vertical Mergers and Market Foreclosure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 345-356.
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Ruback, Richard S., 1983. "The market for corporate control : The scientific evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-4), pages 5-50, April.
    5. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    6. Allen, Bruce T, 1971. "Vertical Integration and Market Foreclosure: The Case of Cement and Concrete," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 251-274, April.
    7. Dodd, Peter, 1980. "Merger proposals, management discretion and stockholder wealth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 105-137, June.
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