Limiting Court Behavior: A Case for High Minimum Sentences and Low Maximum Ones
We model a simple justice system in which a court is mandated by society to assess the guilt and the punishment of an accused. The court takes prison facilities as given and neglects its impact on the cost to society of implementing the sentence. Clearly, the court, in this world, will condemn more often than society and assign higher penalties. Under these circumstances, society at large would necessarily benefit from having maximum sentences. We show, however, as a series of perverse results, that (1) maximum penalties need to be lower than the highest socially desirable penalty; (2) society would benefit from imposing high minimum sentences even though it is precisely the harshness of courts, which it wants to curb.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||forthcoming (latest version), International Review of Law and Economics|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (514) 987-6181
Fax: (514) 987-8494
Web page: http://ideas.uqam.ca/CREFE/Email:
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Friedman, 1999. "Why Not Hang Them All: The Virtues of Inefficient Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S259-S269, December.
- John J. DiIulio, 1996. "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
- J. Giertz & Peter Nardulli, 1985. "Prison overcrowding," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 71-78, January.
- 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 880-91, December.
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982.
"The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment,"
NBER Working Papers
0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rasmusen, Eric, 1995. "How optimal penalties change with the amount of harm," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 101-108, January.
- Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "Are Fines and Prison Terms Used Efficiently? Evidence on Federal Fraud Offenders," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 107-39, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:101. 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: (Stéphane Pallage)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.