The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

441. Bruce Hay, Sting Operations, Undercover Agents, and Entrapment, 10/2003.

Abstract: This paper undertakes an economic analysis of "sting" operations, in which the authorities induce, or tempt, an individual to commit a crime or comparable rule violation. The paper considers the rationales for this law enforcement technique, including its potential advantages over alternative techniques such as ex post apprehension of offenders. Two functions of sting operations are emphasized and analyzed: (1) the informational function of identifying likely offenders; and (2) the behavioral function of deterring offenses. The paper examines the tensions between these functions, and offers a model of desirable sting operation policy.

441: PDF