CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Montag & Sobek on Sentencing Rich People

Josef Montag and Tomáš Sobek (Mendel University and Masaryk University - Faculty of Law) has posted Should Paris Hilton Receive a Lighter Prison Sentence Because She's Rich? Evidence from a Survey Experiment on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Different people experience the same punishment in with differing intensity. Some legal scholars are proposing that improving scientific knowledge and progressing technologies, such as fMRI, need and should be incorporated in our penal systems. This would facilitate calibrating the punishment not only to the crime but also to the offender’s persona, so that different people experience the same punishment for the same crime. However, such a substantial change in the criminal law and policy requires legitimacy and popular approval. We run a simple pilot experiment in order to ascertain whether such approval is in sight. We found that it may be in the case of pecuniary punishments. With regard to incarceration policies, however, the possibility of popular acceptance of such changes seems remote. This finding presents a potential challenge to the literature and may complicate the implementation of suggested reforms. We aim to extend our study to investigate the factors behind this divergence and to check robustness of our experiments in Germany and the US.

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