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Policy Implementation - Penalties or Incentives?

NCJ Number
J Brigham, D W Brown
Date Published
268 pages
Discussions in this book suggest a broad concept of law to incorporate such diverse policy issues as (1) the capacity of law to shape behavior and (2) the influence of incentives and penalties on social morality, perceptions of justice, and implementation strategies.
One paper considers the positive aspects of heavy-handedness in government and makes the point that the exercise of legitimate coercion is an essential trait of governmental INTERVENTION. IT OFFERS four strategies that government can use to get people to change their behavior: information, facilitation, regulation, and incentives. The analysis is based on operant behavior theory and utility theory at the macro level. An examination of the deterrent effects of formal and informal sanctions in preventing criminal behavior considers peer pressures, perceptions of the legitimacy of the law, and knowledge of the laws themselves. Next, an essay on deterrence versus retribution argues that the long-term effectiveness of law in modifying social behavior depends upon the law's ability to nurture in people a sense of morality transcending immediate self-interest and fear of punishment. A discussion of law, coercion, and incentives postulates the thesis that the option (incentive or sanction) chosen is a function of how important the goal or policy is to society; sanctions generally are used when the goal is considered very important. Other essays examine ways to get people to protect themselves, the neighborhood justice center, criminal processing of civil disputes, and smokestack emission regulation. In addition, coercive and noncoercive abortion deterrence policies are discussed, incentives and penalties in California's transportation policy are analyzed, and subsidy as a policy instrument is explained. Tables, graphs, and notes and references are provided. For separate articles, see NCJ 74976-80.