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NCJ Number: 73152 Find in a Library
Title: Deterring Criminals - Policy Making and the American Political Tradition
Author(s): J L Sedgwick
Corporate Author: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 53
Sponsoring Agency: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Washington, DC 20036
Sale Source: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
1150 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study investigates whether microeconomics or welfare economics can generate effective and constitutional solutions to the crime problem.
Abstract: A technique is described for determining the optimal level of law enforcement. It entails identifying the physical and psychic harm inflicted by crime, the costs of apprehension and conviction, the costs of wrongful conviction and punishment, and the social cost of punishing criminals. The most important attribute of this technique is its basing law enforcement on subjective perceptions of the costs of crime and hence on willingness to pay for law enforcement. Public resources are shifted among different policies in accordance with public preferences. The explicit goal is to maximize social welfare or utility, with social welfare being understood as the summation of private interests or utilities. This welfare-economics approach to law enforcement is incompatible with the American system, because it overlooks the possible conflict between wisdom (in the form of good laws that reflect important moral values) and consent (in the form of public willingness to pay for law enforcement). By ignoring the formative effect of law on public character, the economist reduces the problem of law enforcement to a consideration of what the public will pay for. Thus, welfare economics fails to supply the moral or intellectual basis for leadership in policymaking. Footnotes with references are provided.
Index Term(s): Cost/Benefit Analysis; Deterrence; Planning; Police resource allocation; Policy
Note: AEI Studies in Economic Policy, number 280
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