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Let the Punishment Fit the Criminal: Punishment Progressivity in a Self-governed Community in Southeastern Spain

Donna, Javier and Espin Sanchez, Jose (2019): Let the Punishment Fit the Criminal: Punishment Progressivity in a Self-governed Community in Southeastern Spain.

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Abstract

We investigate the roles of individual characteristics and punishment progressivity on crime. Our analysis reconciles low crime rates with light punishments in self-governed communities (Ostrom, 1990), using formal punishments to deter crime (Becker, 1968). We use a novel trial dataset on water stealing from a self-governed community in Mula, Spain. We present a model with predictions consistent with farmers' behavior in Mula: (i) judges trade off crime deterrence and insurance, recognizing that minimizing crime could be socially inefficient; (ii) punishments depend on the defendant's and victim's characteristics; (iii) recidivists are punished harsher than first time offenders for the same crime.

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