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NCJ Number: 64259 Find in a Library
Title: MORAL COSTS OF CRIME - PRICES, INFORMATION, AND ORGANIZATION (FROM COSTS OF CRIME, 1979, BY CHARLES M GRAY - SEE NCJ-64248)
Author(s): R P ADELSTEIN
Corporate Author: Sage Publications, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE CONCEPT OF MORAL COSTS OF CRIME IS PRESENTED USING AN ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK IN WHICH THE GOAL IS EFFICIENT RESOURCE ALLOCATION BASED ON ADEQUATE INFORMATION FLOW FOR EFFICIENT DECISIONMAKING.
Abstract: MORAL COSTS ARE THE SOCIAL OUTRAGE AND MORAL OPPROBRIUM ENGENDERED BY CERTAIN CRIMINAL ACTIONS. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM TRIES TO RECKON THESE COSTS IN DETERMINING PUNISHMENTS FOR OFFENDERS, JUST AS THE MARKET SYSTEM TRIES TO RECKON COSTS OF EXTERNAL EFFECTS OF ACTIVITIES. INDIVIDUALIZATION OF PUNISHMENTS CAN BE SEEN AS A WAY OF RESPONDING TO DIFFERING PERCEPTIONS OF MORAL COST OF OTHERWISE IDENTICAL STATUTORY OFFENSES. CRIMINAL PUNISHMENT IN THE FORM OF INCARCERATION CAN BE SEEN AS A PUBLIC GOOD WHICH PROVIDES MORAL BENEFITS GENERALLY SUFFICIENT TO COMPENSATE THE INDIVIDUAL MORAL COSTS OF THE OFFENSE INVOLVED. IN THE U.S., LEGISLATURES MAKE THE INITIAL DECISIONS ABOUT MORAL COSTS AND PUNISHMENT PRICES, WHILE JUDICIAL OFFICERS HAVE PERVASIVE DISCRETION TO MODIFY LEGISLATIVE STANDARDS WHERE THEY BELIEVE CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT MODIFICATION. THIS DISCRETION PLAYS AN IMPORTANT INFORMATIONAL ROLE BY SIGNALING TO LEGISLATORS THAT THEIR COST ASSESSMENTS MAY BE IN ERROR. THE CONTINUING EFFORTS TO ASSIGN VALUES TO MORAL COSTS, WHICH ARE NOT DIRECTLY MEASURABLE, AND TO INTERNALIZE THEM BY IMPOSING EQUIVALENT PENALTIES ON OFFENDERS HAVE PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN SHAPING EXISTING ORGANIZATIONAL FORMS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS. CHANGES IN AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION ON MORAL COSTS AFFECT THE ORGANIZATIONAL FORM OF THESE INSTITUTIONS. TWO ORGANIZATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS WHICH ATTEMPT TO REMOVE INFORMATIONAL AMBIGUITIES ARE UNIFORM MANDATORY PENALTIES AND SENTENCING STANDARDS. THE FORMER ENTAILS A SUBSTANTIAL RISK OF INACCURATE COST SPECIFICATION IN INDIVIDUAL CASES AND HAS BEEN INVALIDATED BY THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. THE COURT DECISION CONFORMS TO THE ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY CONSIDERATIONS ADVANCED HERE. ALTHOUGH ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE IS A DESIRABLE GOAL, IT PRESUPPOSES AN APPROPRIATE UNDERLYING INCOME DISTRIBUTION AND SOCIAL ORDER. EFFICIENCY SHOULD NOT BE PURSUED TO MAKE TYRANNY EASIER, HOWEVER. NOTES AND A REFERENCE LIST ARE INCLUDED. (CFW)
Index Term(s): Crime costs; Criminal codes; Deterrence; Economic analysis; Mandatory Sentencing; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Punishment; Sentencing guidelines; Testing and measurement; Theory; Torts
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64259

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