A Note on Optimal Sentencing with Recurring Crime and Adjudication Errors

12 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021 Last revised: 6 Aug 2021

See all articles by Alice Guerra

Alice Guerra

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Tore Nilssen

University of Oslo - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 29, 2021

Abstract

We analyze optimal sentence length for recurring crimes in the face of adjudication errors. We develop an infinite-horizon model where offenders are habitual---they repeat crimes whenever free. If apprehended, criminals may be wrongfully acquitted. Similarly, innocent persons may be apprehended and wrongfully convicted. The key finding is that, under reasonable conditions, the two types of adjudication errors have opposite effects on optimum sentencing. Sentence length should decrease with the risk of wrongful convictions, and increase with the risk of wrongful acquittals.

Keywords: Recurring crime; Recidivism; Incapacitation; Adjudication errors; Sentencing

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Guerra, Alice and Nilssen, Tore, A Note on Optimal Sentencing with Recurring Crime and Adjudication Errors (June 29, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3741566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3741566

Alice Guerra

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Bologna
Italy

Tore Nilssen (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo
Norway

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