Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Missing Literature, 28 Sup. Ct. Econ. Rev. 1 (2020):
This evaluation of the felony deterrence literature focuses on the questions which might be largely lacking from many latest wonderful and complete evaluations of that literature and even from the literature itself. By “lacking” I imply, first, questions that felony deterrence students have ignored both utterly or to a big extent. These questions vary from elementary (the distributional evaluation of the felony justice system) to these hidden in plain sight (financial evaluation of misdemeanors), to people who are well-known but principally neglected (the function of optimistic incentives, offender’s psychological state, and celerity of punishment). Second, I exploit “lacking” to consult with the areas the place substantial related information exists however is essentially disregarded throughout the felony deterrence analysis program. The empirical evaluation of environmental and tax compliance is a stark instance. Lastly, I stretch “lacking” to explain subjects which have been each studied and reviewed however the place substantial challenges stay. These embrace the theoretical clarification for the function of offense historical past, the correct accounting for the offender’s beneficial properties, the estimation of the prices of varied crimes, and the cost-benefit evaluation of crime-reduction insurance policies.
Among the many literature’s lacking items, a number of stand out each on their very own and since they mix to provide a extremely unlucky outcome. First, though the empirical aspect of the literature focuses virtually solely on road crime, the literature makes solely a minor effort to estimate the price of crime and primarily no effort to estimate the price of white-collar offenses. This provides to the impression—not supported by the obtainable proof—that road crime is a good social downside whereas white-collar crime is a minor one. Second, the literature fails to deal with misdemeanors and misdemeanor enforcement as an impartial topic of research. This failure contributes to the notion—additionally unjustified—that 13 million or so misdemeanor costs a yr and numerous tens of millions of stops, frisks, and interrogations that result in no costs—all closely skewed by race and sophistication—are additionally not a serious social downside. Third, the literature is just beginning to develop a benefit-cost evaluation of varied crime-reducing methods. The evaluation considers virtually solely measures mirrored within the optimum deterrence mannequin. This creates an impression—virtually certainly false—that deterrence is the one technique of lowering future crime. Lastly, the literature ignores distributional evaluation altogether, despite the fact that the burdens of crime and the felony justice system differ dramatically, predictably, and disturbingly by race and earnings. By disregarding this variation, the literature could also be reinforcing it. For all these causes, the felony deterrence literature might be contributing to the overwhelming, singular focus of American society and legislation enforcement on the forceful deterrence of road crime. Addressing the lacking items would enrich the literature, develop its enchantment and coverage relevance, and allow teachers to contribute to the hassle of setting the US felony justice system on the trail of lengthy overdue structural reforms.