IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Socially Optimal Criminal Justice System Waiting Times: A More General Theoretical Analysis

Listed author(s):
  • Andrew Torre


Criminal justice system delay, which is defined as the time elapsing between the defendant being charged and the case being listed at court, has up to some point, socially valuable flexibility value. This insight borrowed from the options literature in finance, makes it potentially possible to formally model and estimate socially optimal criminal justice system waiting times. This exercise is attempted in this paper by randomising the defendant’s probability of conviction, which is a critical argument in the defendant’s expected cost of going to trial and the monetary value of a conviction to society .The probability of conviction is assumed to conform to a uniform probability distribution with increasing variability until the trial date. What drives this variability is a continuous stream of information impacting on the defendant’s probability of conviction, which is continuously evaluated by the defendant and prosecutor as they formulate their different strategies given their respective conflicting objectives. Endogenising the probability of conviction in this way enables the respective payoffs of the defendant and prosecutor to be expressed as dynamic net present values per unit of time. The economic value of this flexibility to wait is measured as the rate of change in the sum of these dynamic NPVs per unit of time. Socially optimal delay is defined as the trial wait, which maximises the dollar value of the sum of the economic value of flexibility to the prosecutor (society) and the defendant simultaneously, and is the optimal time to list the case at the court. The corresponding dollar value is the total marginal social value of delay. Corresponding to the socially optimal wait and the total marginal social value of delay will be the optimal sentence discount for the prosecutor (society) to offer the defendant and the defendant’s optimal plea. Society makes a trade off between two conflicting objectives, the need to ensure justice to the defendant as legally and morally defined with the need to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in its series Economics Series with number 2009_08.

in new window

Date of creation: 19 Jun 2009
Handle: RePEc:dkn:econwp:eco_2009_08
Contact details of provider: Postal:
221 Burwood Highway, Burwood 3125

Phone: 61 3 9244 3815
Fax: +61 3 5227 2655
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dkn:econwp:eco_2009_08. 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: (Dr Xueli Tang)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.