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This chapter summarizes the conclusions from the prior chapters and weaves them into a coherent economic perspective on the goals and effects of criminal punishment. The discussion not only emphasizes the ability of economic theory to describe the structure and function of legal institutions as well as the decisions of rational offenders, but also cautions that an economic approach to criminal justice is dependent on the values that a given society seeks to pursue, which is ultimately a question of philosophy and politics.
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We also briefly discussed incapacitation.
See, for example, Elster ( 1984).
Gladwell ( 2013, Chapter 8) discusses the relationship between tough punishments and crime rates, specifically with respect to three-strikes laws. His point is that there is a limit to the deterring effect of punishments, which is an argument against maximal punishments.
The data were obtained from FBI crime statistics.
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Gladwell, Malcolm. 2013. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. New York: Little, Brown and Co.
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- Epilogue: What Have We Learned?
Thomas J. Miceli
- Chapter 9
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