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Corporal Punishments and Optimal Incapacitation


  • Kan, Steven S


This article extends Steven Shavell's analysis of optimal incapacitation to corporal punishment. Using the assumption that some crimes may involve an undeterrable organ only, I argue that, for these crimes, imprisonment cannot be optimal because it would indiscriminately incapacitate other productive organs. I further establish that the death sentence and other cruel corporate punishments can be abolished for good if advanced temporary incapacitative sanctions are available. I conclude that a reform of criminal punishment need not revert to bloody corporal punishment, build more jails, or lock up criminals for longer periods of time using potential victims' money. Instead, a reform can use temporary incapacitative measures that can target particular organs at fault. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Kan, Steven S, 1996. "Corporal Punishments and Optimal Incapacitation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 121-130, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:25:y:1996:i:1:p:121-30

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    Cited by:

    1. Kenneth Avio, 1998. "The Economics of Prisons," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-175, September.
    2. Matteo Rizzolli & James Tremewan, 2016. "Hard Labour in the lab: Are monetary and non-monetary sanctions really substitutable?," Vienna Economics Papers 1606, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.

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