Bayesian Juries and the Limits to Deterrence

Posted: 23 Oct 2005

See all articles by Ezra Friedman

Ezra Friedman

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Abraham L. Wickelgren

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics

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Abstract

We consider a model of crime with rational Bayesian Jurors. We find that if jurors are not perfectly informed, even when there is no limit to the size of the punishment that can be imposed, it is not possible to deter all crime. There is a finite lower found on the crime rate which results from the difficulties in achieving a conviction with imperfect evidence and very low crime rates. Crime can not be reduced below this rate by increasing the penalty, but the lower bound can be decreased by improving the quality of evidence presented to jurors, or by increasing the threshold of evidence necessary for prosecution.

Keywords: Bayesian juries, deterrence, crime, punishment

JEL Classification: K4, D8

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Ezra and Wickelgren, Abraham L., Bayesian Juries and the Limits to Deterrence. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 22, No. 1, Spring 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=822247

Ezra Friedman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Abraham L. Wickelgren

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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