Repeat Offenders and the Theory of Deterrence
John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics, Stanford Law School, Working Paper No. 134
Posted: 16 Dec 1996
Date Written: July 1996
This article uses a two-period version of the standard economic model of deterrence to study whether sanctions should depend on an individual's record of prior convictions -- his offense history. The principal contribution of the article is to demonstrate that it may be optimal to treat repeat offenders disadvantageously because such a policy serves to enhance deterrence: When an individual contemplates committing an offense in the first period, he will realize that if he is caught, not only will he bear an immediate sanction, but also -- because he will have a record -- any sanction that he bears in the second period will be higher than it would be otherwise.
JEL Classification: K42, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation