What is a Gang and Why Does the Law Care?

22 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2008

See all articles by Philip A. Curry

Philip A. Curry

University of Waterloo

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 19, 2008

Abstract

The economic theory of optimal punishments states that the expected penalty for a crime ought to be equal (or at least proportional) to the social harm caused by the act. The Criminal Codes in both Canada and the United States allow for criminals to be penalized to a greater degree if they are a member of a gang. According to the economic theory, this would be optimal if either: 1) the social harm from a criminal act is greater for a gang member than for an independent criminal, or 2) the probability of conviction is lower for a gang member. We examine the extent to which both of these possibilities are true and use the findings to develop a (perhaps improved) definition of a gang.

Keywords: Crime, Criminal Organization, Enforcement

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Curry, Philip A. and Mongrain, Steeve, What is a Gang and Why Does the Law Care? (September 19, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1280386 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1280386

Philip A. Curry (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
604-291-3547 (Phone)
604-291-5944 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sfu.ca/~mongrain/

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
173
Abstract Views
1,281
rank
171,056
PlumX Metrics