IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6484.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Kessler
  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

It is typically difficult to differentiate empirically between deterrence and incapacitation since both are a function of expected punishment. In this paper we demonstrate that the introduction of sentence enhancements (i.e. increased punishments that are added on to prison sentences that would have been served anyway) provides a direct means of measuring deterrence. Because the criminal would have been sentenced to prison anyway, there is no additional incapacitation effect from the sentence enhancement in the short-run. Therefore, any immediate decrease in crime must be due to deterrence. We test the model using California's Proposition 8 which imposed sentence enhancements for a selected group of crimes. In the year following its passage, crimes covered by Proposition 8 fell by more than 10 percent relative to similar crimes not affected by the law, suggesting a large deterrent effect. Three years after the law comes into effect, eligible crimes have fallen roughly 20-40 percent compared to non-eligible crimes. This large deterrent effect suggests that sentence enhancements, and may be more cost-effective than is generally thought.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Kessler & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," NBER Working Papers 6484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6484
    Note: LE PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6484.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Samuel Cameron, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323, May.
    2. 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.
    3. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
    4. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
    5. Ann Dryden Witte, 1980. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime With Individual Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 57-84.
    6. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
    7. McCormick, Robert E & Tollison, Robert D, 1984. "Crime on the Court," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 223-235, April.
    8. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-372, July.
    9. 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.
    10. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
    11. Kessler, Daniel P & Piehl, Anne Morrison, 1998. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 256-276, October.
    12. 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.
    13. Lott, John R, Jr, 1987. "Should the Wealthy Be Able to "Buy Justice"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1307-1316, December.
    14. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 583-606, June.
    15. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
    16. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Eide, Erling & Rubin, Paul H. & Shepherd, Joanna M., 2006. "Economics of Crime," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 205-279, December.
    2. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-372, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Levitt Steven D., 2002. "Testing the Economic Model of Crime:The National Hockey League's Two-Referee Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, January.
    5. Lihui Zhang, 2016. "Are youth offenders responsive to changing sanctions? Evidence from the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2003," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(2), pages 515-554, May.
    6. Ayse İmrohoroĝlu & Antonio Merlo & Peter Rupert, 2006. "Understanding the determinants of crime," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 30(2), pages 270-284, June.
    7. Lance Lochner, 2007. "Individual Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 444-460, March.
    8. Bruno S. Frey, 2011. "Punishment – and Beyond," Contemporary Economics, University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw., vol. 5(2), June.
    9. Avner Bar-Ilan & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "The Response to Fines and Probability of Detection in a Series of Experiments," NBER Working Papers 8638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Christoph Engel, 2010. "Turning the Lab into Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. A Lab Experiment on the Transparency of Punishment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Jun 2018.
    11. Alejandro Gaviria & Carlos Medina & Jorge Tamayo, 2010. "Assessing the Link between Adolescent Fertility and Urban Crime," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 006860, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    12. Entorf, H. & Winker, P., 2008. "Investigating the drugs-crime channel in economics of crime models: Empirical evidence from panel data of the German States," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 8-22, March.
    13. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    14. à lvaro José Moreno García, 2005. "Impacto De Transmilenio En El Crimen De La Avenida Caracas Y Sus Vecindades," Documentos CEDE 002809, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    15. 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.
    16. Dean Yang, 2008. "Can Enforcement Backfire? Crime Displacement in the Context of Customs Reform in the Philippines," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 1-14, February.
    17. Ishita Chatterjee & Ranjan Ray, 2013. "The Role of Institutions in the Incidence of Crime and Corruption," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 13-17, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    18. Horst Entorf & Peter Winker, 2001. "The Economics of Crime: Investigating the Drugs-Crime Channel," Law and Economics 0108001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Guido Travaglini, 2003. "Property Crime and Law Enforcement in Italy. A Regional Panel Analysis 1980-95," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 62(2), pages 211-240, October.
    20. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2007. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, in: A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell (ed.), Handbook of Law and Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 403-454, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    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:nbr:nberwo:6484. 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: (). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.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.