The Deterrence Hypothesis and Picking Pockets at the Pickpocket's Hanging

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

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The tenet that harsher penalties could substantially reduce crime rates rests on the assumption that currently active criminals weigh the costs and benefits of their contemplated acts. Existing and proposed crime strategies exhibit this belief, as does a large and growing segment of the crime literature. This study examines the premise that criminals make informed and calculated decisions. The findings suggest that 76% of active criminals and 89% of the most violent criminals either perceive no risk of apprehension or are incognizant of the likely punishments for their crimes.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, David Anton, The Deterrence Hypothesis and Picking Pockets at the Pickpocket's Hanging. American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 295-313, 2002, Available at SSRN:

David Anton Anderson (Contact Author)

Centre College ( email )

600 West Walnut Street
Department of Economics
Danville, KY 40422
United States
859-238-5282 (Phone)
859-238-5774 (Fax)


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