IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cde/cdewps/175.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Making the Punishment Fit the Crime or Taliban Justice? Optimal Penalties Without Commitment

Author

Listed:
  • Parikshit Ghosh

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India)

Abstract

This paper argues that graduated penalties observed in most legal systems may be an attempt to direct law enforcement e orts towards crimes that are socially more harmful, thereby achieving better deterrence overall. The critical assumptions are-- the state cannot commit to a monitoring strategy, and has mixed motives (objectives other than deterrence). However, graduated penalties arise only in the presence of secondary motives that value punishment in itself, such as retribution or nes collected from violators. Other motives that are unrelated to the size of punishment, such as prevention of criminal attempts, will also lead to distortions, but those cannot be corrected by restructuring penalties. The overall harshness of a criminal justice system and the retributive instincts of its designers may be related in counter intuitive ways, and law enforcement may be improved through strategic delegation.

Suggested Citation

  • Parikshit Ghosh, 2009. "Making the Punishment Fit the Crime or Taliban Justice? Optimal Penalties Without Commitment," Working papers 175, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:175
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cdedse.org/pdf/work175.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Equilibrium Incentives in Oligopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 927-940, December.
    2. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Shavell, Steven, 1992. "A note on marginal deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 345-355, September.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "The Determinants of Punishment: Deterrence, Incapacitation and Vengeance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1894, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    6. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
    7. Arun S. Malik, 1990. "Avoidance, Screening and Optimum Enforcement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 341-353, Autumn.
    8. Sunstein, Cass R & Schkade, David A & Kahneman, Daniel, 2000. "Do People Want Optimal Deterrence?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 237-253, January.
    9. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
    10. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    11. M. Grubb, 2003. "Editorial," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 189-190, September.
    12. Wilde, Louis L., 1992. "Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 333-344, September.
    13. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1994. "Marginal Deterrence in Enforcement of Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1039-1066, October.
    14. Shavell, Steven, 1991. "Specific versus General Enforcement of Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1088-1108, October.
    15. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
    16. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. "The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-295, September.
    17. Tsebelis, George, 1989. "The Abuse of Probability in Political Analysis: The Robinson Crusoe Fallacy," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 77-91, March.
    18. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
    19. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
    20. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
    21. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-891, December.
    22. Bowles, Roger & Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. "Casual police corruption and the economics of crime," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 75-87, March.
    23. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Celik, Gorkem & Sayan, Serdar, 2005. "To Give In or Not To Give In To Bribery? Setting the Optimal Fines for Violations of Rules when the Enforcers are Likely to Ask for Bribes," Microeconomics.ca working papers celik-05-08-03-12-50-26, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 06 Aug 2008.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commitment; crime; deterrence; retribution; graduated penalties.;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:175. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sanjeev Sharma). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cdudein.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.