Sex, Shame, and the Law: An Economic Perspective on Megan's Laws
65 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2005
This Article focuses on the question, how should policymakers aiming to minimize the cost of sanctioning utilize legal and nonlegal sanctions when designing a system of criminal sanctions. After presenting the general economic case for the use of nonlegal sanctions the article turns to present a model of shaming, which unlike existing models, incorporates the endogenous effects of legal and nonlegal sanctions. This model demonstrates that tailoring an efficient regime that combines legal and nonlegal sanctions might be more difficult than previously perceived by law and economics scholars. A specific case study presented in this article is of the current trend in different jurisdictions in the United States to publicize the names of convicted sex offenders. The article will argue that such policies have limited preventative value, yet they might be justified as an efficient way to sanction sex offenders. Adopting such an approach towards these policies will, however, require a change of attitude towards them.
Keywords: Megan's laws, criminal law, shaming, law and economics, social norms
JEL Classification: K42
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