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A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Author

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  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Catherine Bucci

Abstract

A feature of many penal codes is that punishments are more severe for repeat offenders, yet economic models have had a hard time providing a theoretical justification for this practice. This paper offers an explanation based on the wage penalty suffered by individuals convicted of crime. While this penalty probably deters some first-timers from committing crimes, it actually hampers deterrence of repeat offenders because of their diminished employments opportunities. We show that in this setting, an escalating penalty scheme is optimal and time consistent.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Miceli & Catherine Bucci, 2004. "A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders," Working papers 2004-39, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-39
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Funk, Patricia, 2004. "On the effective use of stigma as a crime-deterrent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 715-728, August.
    2. Furuya, Kaku, 2002. "A socio-economic model of stigma and related social problems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 281-290, July.
    3. Jeffrey Grogger, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71.
    4. Emons, Winand, 2003. "A note on the optimal punishment for repeat offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 253-259, September.
    5. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "An Attempt at Measuring the Total Monetary Penalty from Drug Convictions: The Importance of an Individual's Reputation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 159-187, January.
    6. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
    7. Winand Emons, 2004. "Subgame-Perfect Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(3), pages 496-502, July.
    8. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "The Effect of Conviction on Income Through the Life Cycle," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-40, March.
    9. Chu, C. Y. Cyrus & Hu, Sheng-cheng & Huang, Ting-yuan, 2000. "Punishing repeat offenders more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 127-140, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Burnovski, Moshe & Safra, Zvi, 1994. "Deterrence effects of sequential punishment policies: Should repeat offenders be more severely punished?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 341-350, September.
    12. 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.
    13. Cooter, Robert D., 1991. "Lapses, conflict, and akrasia in torts and crimes: Towards an economic theory of the will," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 149-164, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2007. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Emons, Winand, 2007. "Escalating penalties for repeat offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 170-178.
    3. Lisa R. Anderson & Gregory DeAngelo & Winand Emons & Beth Freeborn & Hannes Lang, 2017. "Penalty Structures And Deterrence In A Two-Stage Model: Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1833-1867, October.
    4. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterrence and Incapacitation Models of Criminal Punishment: Can the Twain Meet?," Working papers 2009-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Éric Langlais, 2010. "Les criminels aiment-ils le risque ?," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 61(2), pages 263-280.
    7. BRYAN C. McCANNON, 2009. "Differentiating Between First And Repeat Offenses," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 76-85, January.
    8. Thomas J. Miceli, 2012. "Escalating Interest in Escalating Penalties," Working papers 2012-08, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    9. Tim Friehe, 2009. "Escalating penalties for repeat offenders: a note on the role of information," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 97(2), pages 165-183, June.
    10. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Repeat Offenders," Working papers 2008-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    11. Mungan, Murat C., 2010. "Repeat offenders: If they learn, we punish them more severely," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 173-177, June.
    12. Miceli Thomas J., 2012. "Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, March.
    13. Alfred Endres & Bianca Rundshagen, 2012. "Escalating penalties: a supergame approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 29-49, March.
    14. Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.
    15. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:5:p:467-482 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Philip A. Curry & Matthew Doyle, 2016. "Integrating Market Alternatives Into The Economic Theory Of Optimal Deterrence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1873-1883, October.
    17. 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.
    18. Bac, Mehmet & Kanti Bag, Parimal, 2009. "Graduated penalty scheme," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 281-289, December.
    19. Philip A. Curry & Matthew Doyle, 2012. "Social Welfare and the Benefits to Crime," Working Papers 1205, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2012.
    20. Derek Pyne, 2010. "When is it efficient to treat juvenile offenders more leniently than adult offenders?," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 351-371, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Criminal enforcement; repeat offenders;

    JEL classification:

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

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