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Review of Law & Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Parisi, Francesco

Ed. by Cooter, Robert D. / Gómez Pomar, Fernando / Jacobi, Tonja / Kornhauser, Lewis A. / Ulen, Thomas

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Deterred or Detained? A Unified Model of Criminal Punishment

Thomas J. Miceli1

1University of Connecticut

Citation Information: Review of Law & Economics. Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 1–20, ISSN (Online) 1555-5879, DOI: 10.1515/1555-5879.1603, March 2012

Publication History:
Published Online:
2012-03-16

The standard economic model of crime since Becker (1968) is primarily concerned with deterrence, but actual punishment policies 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. Other aspects of the standard model are studied within the context of the hybrid model.

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