Property Rights, Theft, and Efficiency: The Biblical Waiver of Fines in the Case of Confessed Theft
In this paper we show that costs associated with infractions of property rights, such as theft, can be reduced by imposing lower penal-ties on individuals who admit to such infractions and make restitution. We find that the socially optimal penalty on a confessed thief may be zero (complete amnesty) or even negative – a person may be given a reward for confessing a theft. The benefits of amnesties were apparently recognized in ancient times and they constitute part of Biblical Law. Moreover, such amnesties have also been informally incorporated into modern legal systems, wherein leniency (a form of partial amnesty) is generally shown to individuals who confess their infractions.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2001|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Faculty of Social Sciences, Bar Ilan University 52900 Ramat-Gan|
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- Innes, Robert, 2000. "Self-Reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement When Violators Have Heterogeneous Probabilities of Apprehension," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 287-300, January.
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