Crime As Exchange: Retribution

  • Thomas J. MiceliEmail author


This chapter explores an alternative economic theory of crime based on the work of Richard Adelstein. Unlike the Becker model, it argues that the criminal process operates as part of the “exchange order” of society. The goal of punishment is, therefore, to mediate criminal exchanges, defined to be involuntary transfers of legal rights between offenders and their victims. Within this setting, criminal liability is specifically aimed at “completing the exchange” by imposing proportional punishment on offenders. That is, offenders pay for the crime that they committed, while at the same time the public nature of punishment implicitly compensates society for the moral costs of the crime. The guiding principle of this system is retribution, or corrective justice on a case-by-case basis, rather than deterrence.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs MansfieldUSA

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