« Ninth Circuit dodges federal marijuana offender's claim his imprisonment contravenes appropriations rider | Main | Highlighting how the Sessions Memo may have particular impact for drug trafficking cases in certain districts »

May 18, 2017

"Deterrence and the Optimal Use of Prison, Parole, and Probation"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper by A. Mitchell Polinsky and Paul Riskind now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In this article we derive the sentence — choosing among the sanctions of prison, parole, and probation — that achieves a target level of deterrence at least cost.  Potential offenders discount the future disutility of sanctions and the state discounts the future costs of sanctions.  Prison has higher disutility and higher cost per unit time than parole and probation, but the cost of prison per unit of disutility can be lower or higher than the cost of parole and probation per unit of disutility.  The optimal order of sanctions depends on the relative discount rates of potential offenders and the state, and the optimal duration of sanctions depends on the relative costs per unit of disutility among the sanctions and on the target level of deterrence.

We focus on the case in which potential offenders discount the disutility of sanctions at a higher rate than the state discounts the costs of sanctions.  In this case, if prison is more cost-effective than parole and probation — that is, has a lower cost per unit of disutility — prison should be used exclusively.  If prison is less cost-effective than parole and probation, probation should be used if the deterrence target is low enough, and prison followed by parole should be used if the deterrence target is relatively high.  Notably, it may be optimal to employ a prison term even if prison is less cost-effective than parole and probation and even if prison is not needed to achieve the target level of deterrence, because of what we refer to as the front-loading advantage of imprisonment.

May 18, 2017 at 10:39 AM | Permalink


General deterrence is unlawful. One may not punish a person to scare another the defendant has never met.

Specific deterrence is not possible. Crime is too lucrative, and has too a low a risk of apprehension to deter. The lawyer is allowing 95% of crime to go unanswered. As the solution rate of murder is dropping in specific jurisdictions, its rate is soaring in the same places.

The career criminal commits 200 crimes a year. The damages justify prison at 10 times the current cost. Prison solely for incapacitation is one of the greatest utilitarian bargains known to man. Spend $tens of thousands, see returns of $millions, guaranteed. Adding the devaluation of real estate around a crime scene, the returns are in the $tens of millions. This is obvious to even the most uneducated neighbor. He experiences that effect on the ground. I am not including the monetary value of peace of mind and of not living in fear in these benefits.

Posted by: David Behar | May 18, 2017 4:11:20 PM

Done in Europe.

The result:


Posted by: David Behar | May 18, 2017 4:59:08 PM

I got my already programmed and blanked ATM card to withdraw the maximum of $5,000 daily for a maximum of 31 days. I am so happy about this because i got mine and I have used it to get $155,000. MR OSCAR is giving out the card just to help the poor and needy though it is illegal but it is something nice that will help your financial hardship to a change of level financially. And no one gets caught when using the card for the card is well program and very active. get yours from him. Just send him an email On oscarwhitehackersworld@gmail.com THIS IS 100% REAL. I AM A BENEFICIARY OF THIS. HACKERS EMAIL: oscarwhitehackersworld@gmail.com

Posted by: alicia | May 19, 2017 4:22:50 AM

"Deterrence and the Optimal Use of Prison, Parole, and Probation", is it not the whole reason for a penalty to cause a deterrence to any "crime"? How can a Judicial System reform anyone when revenue is more important then people?

Posted by: LC in Texas | May 19, 2017 5:34:11 PM

If you are seeking a Bank Guarantee (BG), SBLC for Lease or Purchase, we are the best financial institution to help you to secure verifiable and easily monetized BG, SBLC and other financial instruments. At SPOT FINANCE, we are a group of experienced bankers, seasoned brokers with years of experience in the financial instrument industry. We deal directly with reliable Providers of BG, SBLC, MT109, MT799, MT760, Loans, Sale and Lease of Financial Instruments issued by Top rated global banks.

Our procedure is TIME SAVING and transparent. With us, you can secure any denomination of BG / SBLC from 10M to 10B (EURO / USD) in time for use in Heavy / Light project financing anywhere in the world.

Basically, we are here to help you move your business to the next level.

Anticipating your interests,
Email: info.spotfinanceltd@gmail.com
Skype: spotfinanceltd

Sincere regards,
Gary Derek Beckett

Posted by: Gary Derek Beckett | Apr 19, 2019 9:54:33 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB