Deterrence and the Adjustment of Sentences During Imprisonment


Publish Date:
October 11, 2021
Publication Title:
American Law & Economics Review
Journal Article
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, Deterrence and the Adjustment of Sentences During Imprisonment, 23 Am. L. & Econ. Rev. 481 (2021).
Related Organization(s):


The prison time actually served by a convicted criminal depends to a significant degree on decisions made by the state during the course of imprisonment—notably, on whether to grant parole.We study a model of the adjustment of sentences assuming that the state’s objective is the optimal deterrence of crime. In the model, the state can lower or raise a criminal’s initial sentence on the basis of deterrence-relevant information obtained during imprisonment. Our focus on sentence adjustment as a means of promoting deterrence stands in contrast to the usual emphasis in sentence adjustment policy on avoiding recidivism.