Toward a Comparative Economics of Plea Bargaining
Posted: 26 Mar 1997
Date Written: January 1997
A central component of every legal system is the distinctive set of procedures it employs to determine the guilt or innocence of criminal defendants and the punishment to be imposed upon the guilty. How alternative systems of criminal justice address this problem in the context of the values that support them is the subject of what we call the comparative economics of plea bargaining. In this paper we develop a behavioral model that is sufficiently general to capture not just the decisions made by prosecutors and defendants within individual systems of criminal justice characterized by specific institutional constraints, but also the close relationship of these constraints to differences in the moral and political values that underlie different systems and the particular circumstances in which they must operate. In developing this model, we hope to add rigor to the comparative analysis of legal systems and to begin a synthesis of the neoclassical and institutional approaches to the economics of crime.
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation