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A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, On Offense History and the Theory of Deterrence, 18 Int'l Rev. L. & Econ. 305 (1998).

Abstract: This article uses a two-period version of the standard economic model of deterrence to study whether sanctions should depend on an individual’s record of prior convictions—his offense history. The principal contribution of the article is to demonstrate that it may be optimal to treat repeat offenders disadvantageously because such a policy serves to enhance deterrence: When an individual contemplates committing an offense in the first period, he will realize that if he is caught, not only will he bear an immediate sanction, but also—because he will have a record—any sanction that he bears in the second period will be higher than it would be otherwise.