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December 22, 2014

"A Simple Model of Optimal Deterrence and Incapacitation"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper on SSRN authored by Steven Shavell (who taught me about law and economics over a score ago when I was in law school). Here is the abstract:

The deterrence of crime and its reduction through incapacitation are studied in a simple multiperiod model of crime and law enforcement.  Optimal imprisonment sanctions and the optimal probability of sanctions are determined.

A point of emphasis is that the incapacitation of individuals is often socially desirable even when they are potentially deterrable.  The reason is that successful deterrence may require a relatively high probability of sanctions and thus a relatively high enforcement expense.  In contrast, incapacitation may yield benefits no matter how low the probability of sanctions is — implying that incapacitation may be superior to deterrence.

December 22, 2014 at 02:00 PM | Permalink


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Prof. Berman is such a tease. I got very excited about a lawyer communicating from an earth bound location. I wanted to reach out to him, become internet friends and exchange mutually simulating theories, and data.

No. Dude is an economist, worked at the CDC. He is merely an affirmative action baby at the Harvard Law School, a monkey from back on earth on display, that no one is listening to.

I appreciate Prof. Berman's palate cleanser of an article, and enjoyed it.

My challenge to the lawyers. 20 million Index felonies, 2 million prosecutions. You find a way to end crime without ending the person, committing hundreds of crimes a year, and spawning a dozen offspring going into the family business.

I am open to alternatives to 123D. But they have to end all crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2014 2:16:03 PM

There is a lively death penalty. About half the criminals are murdered eventually. No apparent deterrence. General deterrence also violates the Fifth Amendment Due Process to a fair hearing, punishing the person to scare someone he has never met, and who has not yet committed a crime.

123D would merely finish the job begun by the criminals themselves. Naturally the lawyer profession would shrink by a very large fraction. Maybe a third.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2014 2:19:30 PM

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