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Time-Consistent Criminal Sanctions

Author

Listed:
  • BOADWAY, Robin

    (Queen's University)

  • MARCEAU, Nicolas

    (Universite Laval)

  • MARCHAND, Maurice

    (CORE, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Abstract

A classic argument in the theory of crime is that optimal enforcement policy should involve maximal sanctions and no crime. Yet this is rarely observed in the real world. We argue that one reason for this has to do with the time inconsistency of such a policy. If sanctions are only applied after a crime has been committed, the enforcement authority may be reluctant to impose a high sanction since it will no longer have any deterrent effect. We show in a simple one period setting that if the enforcement authority can commit to its announced sanctions, the classic result is obtained. However, if the enforcement authority cannot commit, a minimal sanction with no deterrence is obtained. These extreme outcomes can be avoided in a setting in which crimes and enforcement occur repeatedly and the authority is able to build a reputation.

Suggested Citation

  • BOADWAY, Robin & MARCEAU, Nicolas & MARCHAND, Maurice, 1994. "Time-Consistent Criminal Sanctions," CORE Discussion Papers 1994010, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1994010
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    File URL: https://uclouvain.be/en/research-institutes/immaq/core/dp-1994.html
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    Cited by:

    1. M. Martin Boyer, 2001. "Resistance is Futile: An Essay in Crime and Commitment," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-58, CIRANO.
    2. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2000. "The Optimality of Punishing Only the Innocent: The Case of Tax Evasion," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(6), pages 641-664, December.
    3. Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2013. "An Economic Analysis of Maritime Piracy and its Control," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(4), pages 343-359, September.
    4. De Geest, Gerrit & Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Siegers, Jacques J., 2009. "Annullable bonuses and penalties," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 349-359, December.
    5. Matthew Baker & Thomas Miceli, 2005. "Credible Criminal Enforcement," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 5-15, July.
    6. Chongwoo Choe & Iain Fraser, 1999. "Compliance Monitoring and Agri-Environmental Policy," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 468-487.
    7. Fabel, Oliver & Meier, Volker, 1999. "Optimal parole decisions1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 159-166, June.
    8. L. A. Franzoni, 1995. "Prosecutorial Discretion and Criminal Deterrence," Working Papers 234, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    9. Jost, Peter-J, 2001. "Crime, coordination, and punishment: An economic analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 23-46, March.
    10. Marceau, Nicolas & Mongrain, Steeve, 1999. "Dissuader le crime : un survol," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 123-147, mars-juin.
    11. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 1999. "Costly Sanctions and the Maximum Penalty Principle," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 100, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
    12. Joanne Roberts, 2000. "Plea Bargaining with Budgetary Constraints and Deterrence," Working Papers jorob-00-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    13. Suurmond, Guido, 2007. "The effects of the enforcement strategy," MPRA Paper 21142, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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