The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

802. Steven Shavell, A Simple Model of Optimal Deterrence and Incapacitation, 12/2014; forthcoming in International Review of Law and Economics.

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.

802 PDF