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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

Deterrence

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2013

Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Beccaria’s treatise "On Crimes and Punishments" (1764) has become a placeholder for the classical school of thought in criminology, for deterrence-based public policy, for death penalty abolitionism, and for liberal ideals of legality and the rule of law. A source of inspiration for Bentham and Blackstone, an object of praise for Voltaire and the Philosophies, a target of pointed critiques by Kant and Hegel, the subject of a genealogy by Foucault, the object of derision by the Physiocrats, rehabilitated and appropriated by the Chicago School of law and economics – these ricochets and reflections on Beccaria’s treatise reveal multiple ...


Minority Practice, Majority’S Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke Jan 2011

Minority Practice, Majority’S Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke

Faculty Scholarship

Although supported in principle by two-thirds of the public and even more of the States, capital punishment in the United States is a minority practice when the actual death-sentencing practices of the nation’s 3000-plus counties and their populations are considered. This feature of American capital punishment has been present for decades, has become more pronounced recently, and is especially clear when death sentences, which are merely infrequent, are distinguished from executions, which are exceedingly rare.

The first question this Article asks is what forces account for the death-proneness of a minority of American communities? The answer to that question ...


"A Good Man Always Knows His Limitations": Overconfidence In Criminal Offending, Thomas Loughran, Ray Paternoster, Alex R. Piquero, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2011

"A Good Man Always Knows His Limitations": Overconfidence In Criminal Offending, Thomas Loughran, Ray Paternoster, Alex R. Piquero, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

Traditional criminological research in the area of rational choice and crime decisions places a strong emphasis on offenders’ perceptions of risk associated with various crimes. Yet, this literature has thus far generally neglected the role of individual overconfidence in both the formation of subjective risk perceptions and the association between risk and crime. In other types of high risk behaviors which serve as analogs to crime, including stock trading and uncertain business and investment decisions, overconfidence is shown to have a stimulating effect on an individuals’ willingness to engage in these behaviors. Using data from two separate samples, this paper ...


Randomization In Criminal Justice: A Criminal Law Conversation, Bernard E. Harcourt, Alon Harel, Ken Levy, Michael M. O'Hear, Alice Ristroph Jan 2009

Randomization In Criminal Justice: A Criminal Law Conversation, Bernard E. Harcourt, Alon Harel, Ken Levy, Michael M. O'Hear, Alice Ristroph

Faculty Scholarship

In this Criminal Law Conversation (Robinson, Ferzan & Garvey, eds., Oxford 2009), the authors debate whether there is a role for randomization in the penal sphere - in the criminal law, in policing, and in punishment theory. In his Tanner lectures back in 1987, Jon Elster had argued that there was no role for chance in the criminal law: “I do not think there are any arguments for incorporating lotteries in present-day criminal law,” Elster declared. Bernard Harcourt takes a very different position and embraces chance in the penal sphere, arguing that randomization is often the only way to avoid the pitfalls ...


Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson Jan 2009

Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson

Faculty Scholarship

We compare homicide rates in two quite similar cities with vastly different execution risks. Singapore had an execution rate close to 1 per million per year until an explosive twentyfold increase in 1994-95 and 1996-97 to a level that we show was probably the highest in the world. Then over the next 11 years, Singapore executions dropped by about 95%. Hong Kong, by contrast,has no executions all during the last generation and abolished capital punishment in 1993. Homicide levels and trends are remarkably similar in these two cities over the 35 years after 1973, with neither the surge in ...


An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2007

An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Previous research overwhelmingly shows that incarceration led to lower rates of violent crime during the 1990s, but finds no evidence of an effect prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt calls “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to that puzzle: the fatal error with prior research is that it used exclusively rates of imprisonment, rather than a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel data regressions over the period 1934-2001, and controlling for demographic, economic, and criminal justice variables, this study finds a large, robust, and statistically significant relationship between aggregated ...


Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2006

Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

Avoidance and evasion continue to frustrate the government's efforts to collect much-needed tax revenues. This Article articulates one of the reasons for this lack of success and proposes a new type of penalty that would strengthen tax enforcement while improving efficiency. Economic analysis of deterrence suggests that rational taxpayers choose avoidance and evasion strategies based on expected rather than nominal sanctions. I argue that many taxpayers do just that. Because the probability of detection varies dramatically among different items on a tax return while nominal penalties do not take the likelihood of detection into account, expected penalties for inconspicuous ...


From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2006

From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The incarceration explosion of the late twentieth century set off a storm of longitudinal research on the relationship between rates of imprisonment and crime, unemployment, education, and other social indicators. Those studies, however, are fundamentally flawed because they fail to measure confinement properly. They rely on imprisonment data only, and ignore historical rates of mental hospitalization. With the exception of a discrete literature on the interdependence of the mental hospital and prison populations and some studies on the explanations for the prison expansion, none of the empirical work related to the incarceration explosion – or for that matter, older research on ...


Embracing Chance: Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2006

Embracing Chance: Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Since the modern era, the discourse of punishment has cycled through three sets of questions. The first, born of the Enlightenment itself, asked: On what ground does the sovereign have the right to punish? Nietzsche most forcefully, but others as well, argued that the question itself begged its own answer. The right to punish, they suggested, is what defines sovereignty, and as such, can never serve to limit sovereign power. With the birth of the social sciences, this skepticism gave rise to a second set of questions: What then is the true function of punishment? What is it that we ...


Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2005

Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

Avoidance and evasion continue to frustrate the government's efforts to collect much needed tax revenues. This article articulates one of the reasons for this lack of success and proposes a new type of penalty that would strengthen tax enforcement while improving efficiency. The economic analysis of deterrence suggests that rational taxpayers choose among various avoidance or evasion strategies that are subject to identical statutory sanctions those that are more difficult for the government to find. I argue that many taxpayers do just that. Because probability of detection varies dramatically among different items on a tax return while nominal penalties ...


Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods In Chicago, Andrew V. Papachristos, Tracey L. Meares, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2005

Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods In Chicago, Andrew V. Papachristos, Tracey L. Meares, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

This research uses a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiatives on neighborhood level crime rates in Chicago. Four interventions are analyzed: (1) increased federal prosecutions for convicted felons carrying or using guns, (2) the length of sentences associated with federal prosecutions, (3) supply-side firearm policing activities, and (4) social marketing of deterrence and social norms messages through justice-style offender notification meetings. Using an individual growth curve models and propensity scores to adjust for non-random group assignment, our findings suggest that several PSN interventions are associated with greater declines of homicide in the treatment neighborhoods ...


The Preventive Effects Of Arrest On Intimate Partner Violence: Research, Policy And Theory, Christopher D. Maxwell, Joel H. Garner, Jeffrey A. Fagan Jan 2002

The Preventive Effects Of Arrest On Intimate Partner Violence: Research, Policy And Theory, Christopher D. Maxwell, Joel H. Garner, Jeffrey A. Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

This research addresses the limitations of prior analyses and reviews of five experiments testing for the specific deterrent effect of arrest on intimate partner violence by applying to individual level data consistent eligibility criteria, common independent and outcome measures, and appropriate statistical tests. Based on 4,032 cases involving adult males who assaulted their female intimate partners, multivariate regression analyses show consistent but modest reductions in subsequent offenses targeting the original victim that is attributable to arresting the suspect. Although the reductions attributable to arrest are similar across all five studies, other factors, such as the suspect's prior arrest ...