New Economics Papers
on Law and Economics
Issue of 2009‒09‒05
two papers chosen by
Jeong-Joon Lee, Towson University

  1. Deterrence and Incapacitation Models of Criminal Punishment: Can the Twain Meet? By Thomas J. Miceli
  2. Do less-violent technologies result in less violence? A theoretical investigation applied to the use of tasers by law enforcement By McCannon, Bryan C.

  1. By: Thomas J. Miceli (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: The standard economic model of crime focuses on the goal of deterrence, but actual punishment schemes, most notably recent three-strikes laws, seem to rely more on imprisonment than is prescribed by that model. One explanation is that prison also serves an incapacitation function. The current paper seeks to develop an economic model of law enforcement that combines the deterrence and incapacitation motives for criminal punishment. The resulting hybrid model retains the rationality assumption that is the basis of the pure deterrence model, but assumes that offenders face repeated criminal opportunities over their lifetimes. In this setting, deterrence and incapacitation emerge naturally as complementary motivations for imposing criminal punishment.
    Keywords: Deterrence, incapacitation, law enforcement, prison
    JEL: K14 K42
    Date: 2009–08
  2. By: McCannon, Bryan C.
    Abstract: The use of a taser by law enforcement can substitute for either a gun (a more-violent technology) or a mildly-violent technology (such as pepper spray or hands-on tactics). Which is used affects both the severity of harm when used and the amount of resistance, which affects how often it must be used. Thus, does the adoption of a less-violent technology lead to more or less violence? This question is addressed in an application to the adoption of tasers by law enforcement officials. A game-theoretic model is developed and environments where resistance to arrest and expected harm both increase and decrease are identified.
    Keywords: Law enforcement,less-violent technology,strategic offsetting behavior
    JEL: K42
    Date: 2009

This issue is ©2009 by Jeong-Joon Lee. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.