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Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence

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  • Matteo Rizzolli

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  • Luca Stanca

    ()

Abstract

The standard economic theory of crime deterrence predicts that the conviction of an innocent (type-I error) is as detrimental to deterrence as the acquittal of a guilty individual (type-II error). In this paper, we qualify this result theoretically, showing that in the presence of risk aversion, loss-aversion, or differential sensitivity to procedural fairness, type-I errors can have a larger effect on deterrence than type-II errors. We test these predictions with an experiment where participants make a decision on whether to steal from other individuals, being subject to different probabilities of judicial errors. The results indicate that both types of judicial errors have a large and significant impact on deterrence, but these effects are not symmetric. An increase in the probability of type-I errors has a larger negative impact on deterrence than an equivalent increase in the probability of type-II errors. This asymmetry is largely explained by risk aversion and, to a lesser extent, type-I error aversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Matteo Rizzolli & Luca Stanca, 2009. "Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 170, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:170
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    Cited by:

    1. Doménech, Gabriel & Puchades, Miguel, 2015. "Compensating acquitted pre-trial detainees," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 167-177.
    2. Khadjavi, Menusch, 2014. "Deterrence works for criminals," Kiel Working Papers 1938, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2015. "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt: Laboratory evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 181, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    4. repec:eee:rujoec:v:2:y:2016:i:4:p:375-401 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lucia Marchegiani & Tommaso Reggiani & Matteo Rizzolli, 2013. "Severity vs. Leniency Bias in Performance Appraisal: Experimental evidence," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS01, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    6. Šastitko, Andrej E., 2013. "Effects of third party errors," EconStor Preprints 121747, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    7. Marco Faillo & Matteo Rizzolli & Stephan Tontrup, 2016. "Thou shalt not steal (from hard-working people)An experiment on respect for property claims," Econometica Working Papers wp58, Econometica.
    8. Avdasheva, Svetlana & Shastitko, Andrei, 2015. "Alleged Infringement: The Time of Announcement Does Matter," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 72-91, February.
    9. Sven Hoeppner & Laura Lyhs, 2016. "Behavior Under Vague Standards: Evidence from the Laboratory," Jena Economic Research Papers 2016-010, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    10. Markussen, Thomas & Putterman, Louis & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2016. "Judicial error and cooperation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 372-388.
    11. Marchegiani, Lucia & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Rizzolli, Matteo, 2011. "How Unjust! An Experimental Investigation of Supervisors' Evaluation Errors and Agents' Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 6254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2017. "Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 23-32.
    13. Mungan, Murat C., 2015. "Wrongful convictions and the punishment of attempts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 79-87.
    14. Stan Miles & Derek Pyne, 2015. "Deterring repeat offenders with escalating penalty schedules: a Bayesian approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 229-250, August.
    15. Feess, Eberhard & Schramm, Markus & Wohlschlegel, Ansgar, 2014. "The Impact of Fine Size and Uncertainty on Punishment and Deterrence: Evidence from the Laboratory," MPRA Paper 59463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Cremers, Katrin & Gaessler, Fabian & Harhoff, Dietmar & Helmers, Christian & Lefouili, Yassine, 2016. "Invalid but infringed? An analysis of the bifurcated patent litigation system," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 218-242.
    17. Matteo Rizzolli & Margherita Saraceno, 2009. "Better that X guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," Working Papers 168, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2009.
    18. Astrid, Gamba & Luca, Stanca, 2016. "Mis-Judging Merit: The Effects of Adjudication Errors in Contests," Working Papers 345, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 14 Jul 2016.
    19. Matteo Rizzolli & James Tremewan, 2016. "Hard Labour in the lab: Are monetary and non-monetary sanctions really substitutable?," Vienna Economics Papers 1606, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    20. Linde, Jona & Sonnemans, Joep, 2015. "Decisions under risk in a social and individual context: The limits of social preferences?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 62-71.
    21. Bertrand Chopard & Edwige Marion & Ludivine Roussey, 2014. "Does the Appeals Process Lower the Occurrence of Legal Errors?," EconomiX Working Papers 2014-43, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Judicial errors; criminal procedure; procedural fairness; experimental economics; law and economics; crime; deterrence;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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