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Prison work programs in a model of deterrence

Author: A Mitchell Polinsky; National Bureau of Economic Research,
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 23026.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
This article considers the social desirability of prison work programs in a model in which the function of imprisonment is to deter crime. Two types of prison work programs are studied--voluntary ones and mandatory ones. A voluntary work program generates net social benefits: if prisoners are paid a wage that just compensates them for their disutility from work, the deterrent effect of the prison sentence is  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: A Mitchell Polinsky; National Bureau of Economic Research,
OCLC Number: 968131232
Notes: "January 2017"
Description: 1 online resource (37 pages).
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 23026.
Responsibility: A. Mitchell Polinsky.

Abstract:

This article considers the social desirability of prison work programs in a model in which the function of imprisonment is to deter crime. Two types of prison work programs are studied--voluntary ones and mandatory ones. A voluntary work program generates net social benefits: if prisoners are paid a wage that just compensates them for their disutility from work, the deterrent effect of the prison sentence is unaffected, but society obtains the product of the work program. But a mandatory work program yields even higher net social benefits: if prisoners are forced to work without compensation, the deterrent effect of the prison sentence rises, allowing society to restore deterrence and save resources by reducing the probability of detection or the sentence length, and also to obtain greater output than under the optimal voluntary work program. In an extension of the basic analysis, however, in which prisoners vary in their disutility from work, a voluntary work program may be superior to a mandatory work program because prisoners with relatively high disutility from work can elect not to work.

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