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Caught in the Act but Not Punished: On Elite Rule of Law and Deterrence

42 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Jun 2016

Francesca R. Jensenius

NUPI - Norwegian Institute for InternationalAffairs

Abby K. Wood

USC Gould School of Law

Date Written: June 21, 2016

Abstract

Most literature on criminal deterrence in law, economics, and criminology assumes that people who are caught for a crime will be punished. The literature focuses on how the size of sanctions and probability of being caught affect criminal behavior. However, in many countries entire groups of people are “above the law” in the sense that they are able to evade punishment even if caught violating the law. In this paper we argue that both the perceived probability of being punished if caught and the cultural acceptance of elites evading punishment are important parts of theorizing about deterrence, particularly about corruption among political elites. Looking at data on parking violations among diplomats in New York City 1997–2002, we explore how diplomats from different rule-of-law cultures respond to sudden legal immunity. The empirical observations provide clear evidence of both the stickiness and the gradual weakening of cultural constraints.

Keywords: Corruption, rule of law, criminal deterrence, political elites, legal enforcement

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Jensenius, Francesca R. and Wood, Abby K., Caught in the Act but Not Punished: On Elite Rule of Law and Deterrence (June 21, 2016). Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, Forthcoming; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 15-28; USC CLASS Research Paper No. 15-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633048 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1633048

Francesca R. Jensenius

NUPI - Norwegian Institute for InternationalAffairs ( email )

Oslo
Norway

Abby K. Wood (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://weblaw.usc.edu/contact/contactInfo.cfm?detailID=71046

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