On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence

26 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2000 Last revised: 7 Oct 2010

See all articles by A. Mitchell Polinsky

A. Mitchell Polinsky

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 1997

Abstract

This article studies the implications for the theory of deterrence of (a) the manner in" which individuals' disutility from imprisonment varies with the length of the imprisonment" term; and (b) discounting of the future disutility and future public costs of imprisonment. Two" questions are addressed: Is deterrence enhanced more by increasing the length of imprisonment" terms or instead by raising the likelihood of imposing imprisonment? What is the optimal" combination of the severity and probability of imprisonment sanctions?"

Suggested Citation

Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Shavell, Steven, On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence (November 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6259. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226016

A. Mitchell Polinsky (Contact Author)

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Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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