This chapter sets the stage for the remainder of the book by first describing the “punishment-as-price paradigm,” which underlies the economic approach to criminal justice. This concept is based on the idea that a crime is essentially a form of exchange, albeit involuntary, and criminal punishment is the price of that exchange, which an offender, once apprehended and convicted, must pay. The chapter emphasizes, by means of a simple law enforcement “game,” the sequential nature of crime and punishment, which necessarily raises questions about the credibility on the part of law enforcers regarding the imposition of punishment. This issue establishes a theme, referred to as the “paradox of punishment,” that runs throughout the book.
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