Less Crime, More (Vulnerable) Victims: The Distributional Effects of Criminal Sanctions
30 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2005
Date Written: September 1, 2005
Harsh sanctions are conventionally assumed to primarily benefit vulnerable targets. Contrary to this perception, this article shows that augmented sanctions serve principally the less vulnerable targets. While decreasing crime, harsher sanctions also induce the police to shift enforcement efforts from more to less vulnerable victims. When this shift is substantial, augmented sanctions exacerbate (rather than reduce) the risk to vulnerable victims. Based on this insight, this article suggests several normative implications concerning the efficacy of enhanced sanctions, the importance of victims' funds, and the connection between police operation and apprehension rates.
Keywords: deterrence, enforcement, distribution of crime, vulnerable targets, enhanced sanctions, victims' compensation, apprehension rates
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