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Sex, Shame, and the Law: An Economic Perspective on Megan's Laws

Doron Teichman

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Harvard Journal on Legislation, 2005

This Article focuses on the question, how should policymakers aiming to minimize the cost of sanctioning utilize legal and nonlegal sanctions when designing a system of criminal sanctions. After presenting the general economic case for the use of nonlegal sanctions the article turns to present a model of shaming, which unlike existing models, incorporates the endogenous effects of legal and nonlegal sanctions. This model demonstrates that tailoring an efficient regime that combines legal and nonlegal sanctions might be more difficult than previously perceived by law and economics scholars. A specific case study presented in this article is of the current trend in different jurisdictions in the United States to publicize the names of convicted sex offenders. The article will argue that such policies have limited preventative value, yet they might be justified as an efficient way to sanction sex offenders. Adopting such an approach towards these policies will, however, require a change of attitude towards them.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 65

Keywords: Megan's laws, criminal law, shaming, law and economics, social norms

JEL Classification: K42

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Date posted: April 21, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Teichman, Doron, Sex, Shame, and the Law: An Economic Perspective on Megan's Laws. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=705162

Contact Information

Doron Teichman (Contact Author)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )
Mount Scopus, 91905

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