Wrongful Convictions and the Punishment of Attempts
18 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2014 Last revised: 3 Dec 2015
Date Written: January 20, 2014
This article presents economic models of law enforcement where the punishment of attempts leads to an increased risk of wrongful convictions. It shows that the case for punishing attempts becomes weaker once such risks are considered. Specifically, attempts ought to be punished less frequently than suggested in previous work, and even when the punishment of attempts is desirable, they typically ought to be punished less severely than accomplished crimes. Purely deterrence related rationales as well as rationales based on costs associated with wrongful convictions support this conclusion. The presence of wrongful conviction costs also implies that a degree of under-deterrence is optimal.
Keywords: Type-I errors, Attempts, Wrongful Convictions, Judicial Errors, Crime and Deterrence, Optimal Sanctions
JEL Classification: K00, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation