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Punitive Police? Agency Costs, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Procedure

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  • Dhammika Dharmapala
  • Nuno Garoupa
  • Richard H. McAdams

Abstract

Criminal law enforcement depends on public agents such as police officers, but the resulting agency problems are generally neglected. We develop an agency model of police behavior that emphasizes intrinsic motivation and self-selection. Drawing on experimental evidence on heterogeneous preferences for punishment, our model identifies circumstances in which punitive individuals (with stronger-than-average punishment preferences) self-select into law enforcement jobs that offer the opportunity to punish, or facilitate the punishment of, wrongdoers. Punitive agents accept a lower salary but create agency costs associated with excessive zeal in searching, seizing, and punishing suspects. In our framework, the public may choose to hire punitive police agents while providing suspects with criminal procedure protections, thereby empowering other agents (judges and juries) with average punishment preferences to limit the agency costs of excessive zeal. Intrinsic motivation and self-selection provide an explanation for the bifurcated structure of criminal law enforcement and pro-defendant rules of criminal procedure.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhammika Dharmapala & Nuno Garoupa & Richard H. McAdams, 2016. "Punitive Police? Agency Costs, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Procedure," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 105-141.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:doi:10.1086/684308
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9538-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ajilore, Olugbenga, 2017. "Is There a 1033 Effect? Police Militarization and Aggressive Policing," MPRA Paper 82543, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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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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