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Preventing Crime through Selective Incapacitation

Author

Listed:
  • Vollaard, B.A.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

Abstract

Making the length of a prison sentence conditional on an individual’s offense history is shown to be a powerful way of preventing crime. Under a law adopted in the Netherlands in 2001, prolific offenders could be sentenced to a prison term that was some ten times longer than usual. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in the moment of introduction and the frequency of application across 12 urban areas to identify the effect. We find the sentence enhancements to have dramatically reduced theft rates. The size of the crime-reducing effect is found to be subject to sharply diminishing returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Vollaard, B.A., 2010. "Preventing Crime through Selective Incapacitation," Discussion Paper 2010-141, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:c3337307-7393-4f8d-be64-a443c9616282
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    File URL: https://pure.uvt.nl/portal/files/1297354/2010-141.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-363, April.
    2. Mitchell Polinsky, A. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1991. "A model of optimal fines for repeat offenders," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 291-306.
    3. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    4. Emily G. Owens, 2009. "More Time, Less Crime? Estimating the Incapacitative Effect of Sentence Enhancements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 551-579, August.
    5. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1998. "On offense history and the theory of deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 305-324, September.
    6. Worrall, John L., 2004. "The effect of three-strikes legislation on serious crime in California," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 283-296.
    7. H. Naci Mocan & Turan G. Bali, 2010. "Asymmetric Crime Cycles," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 899-911, November.
    8. Shepherd, Joanna M, 2002. "Fear of the First Strike: The Full Deterrent Effect of California's Two- and Three-Strikes Legislation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 159-201, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Steven Raphael, 2014. "The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number nsc.
    2. Paolo Buonanno & Steven Raphael, 2013. "Incarceration and Incapacitation: Evidence from the 2006 Italian Collective Pardon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2437-2465, October.
    3. Luca Zanin & Rosalba Radice & Giampiero Marra, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Perceived Risk of Crime on Social Trust in the Presence of Endogeneity Bias," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 523-547, November.
    4. repec:eee:ejores:v:262:y:2017:i:1:p:306-321 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Magnus Lofstrom & Steven Raphael, 2016. "Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 103-126, Spring.
    6. Veerle Hennebel & Richard Simper & Marijn Verschelde, 2016. "Is there a prison size dilemma? An empirical analysis of output-specific economies of scale," Working Papers 2016-EQM-09, IESEG School of Management.
    7. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    prolific offenders; incarceration; selective incapacitation; three strikes laws;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law

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