IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/uct/uconnp/2009-16.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas J. Miceli

Abstract

The standard economic model of crime since Becker (1968) is primarily concerned with deterrence. Actual punishment policies, however, appear to rely on imprisonment to a greater extent than is prescribed by that model. One reason may be the incapacitation function of prison. The model developed in this paper seeks to incorporate incapacitation into the standard model. A key finding of the hybrid model is that when prison is the only form of punishment and the probability of apprehension is fixed, incapacitation can result in a longer or a shorter optimal prison term compared to the deterrence-only model. It is longer if there is underdeterrence, and shorter if there is overdeterrence. When fines are also available and are not constrained by offenders' wealth, the optimal prison term is zero. Since the fine achieves first-best deterrence, only efficient crimes are committed, and hence, there is no gain from incapacitation. Other aspects of the standard model are also studied within the context of the hybrid model.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment," Working papers 2009-16, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2009-16
    Note: I appreciate the comments of Steve Shavell on an earlier draft.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2009-16.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Miceli Thomas J. & Bucci Catherine, 2005. "A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 71-80, April.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, April.
    5. Mitchell Polinsky, A. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1991. "A model of optimal fines for repeat offenders," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 291-306, December.
    6. Lewin, Jeff L. & Trumbull, William N., 1990. "The social value of crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 271-284, December.
    7. Winand Emons, 2004. "Subgame-Perfect Punishment for Repeat Offenders," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(3), pages 496-502, July.
    8. Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Glenn C. Loury, 1979. "Market Structure and Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 395-410.
    11. Davis, Michael L, 1988. "Time and Punishment: An Intertemporal Model of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 383-390, April.
    12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-322, June.
    13. Miceli, Thomas J., 2010. "A model of criminal sanctions that incorporate both deterrence and incapacitation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 205-207, May.
    14. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-979, December.
    15. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "A Model of Optimal Incapacitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 107-110, May.
    16. 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

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ullman, Darin F., 2016. "Locked and not loaded: First time offenders and state ignition interlock programs," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 1-13.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deterrence; imprisonment; incapacitation; law enforcement;

    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:uct:uconnp:2009-16. 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: (Mark McConnel). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/deuctus.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.