Mueller-Smith's work contradicts Becker's theory that uncommon severe punishment is a more effective deterrent than probable light punishment
"How Econ Got Crime and Punishment Wrong" - Bloomberg. 9/22/2015.
Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker theorized that people use cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether to commit crimes, with cost equal to the probability of getting caught times the severity of the punishment. This led to Becker's conclusion that rare but severe punishments (which are hard to predict) are more cost-effective at deterring crime than lighter and more certain punishments. However, Michael Mueller-Smith recently found that long prison sentences often turn the incarcerated into career criminals, effectively increasing crime rates rather than deterring crime.