Solving the multiple-offense paradox

Michael Tonry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the multiple-conviction paradox, in which punishments of people convicted of multiple offenses are often discounted if sentences are imposed at one time but enhanced if imposed at different times. A bulk discount characterizes sentencing for concurrent convictions. A recidivist premium attaches to successive convictions. The chapter first reviews empirical data to show that the multiple-conviction paradox is the central issue that normative accounts of punishment must adequately address. It then discusses efforts by theorists to justify the bulk discount before proposing a framework for addressing the multiple-offense paradox within just sentencing systems that integrates principled considerations with blameworthiness and crime prevention. This approach favors parsimonious and human capital–enhancing punishments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSentencing for Multiple Crimes
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780190607609
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2018.


  • Blameworthiness
  • Bulk discount
  • Concurrent convictions
  • Crime prevention
  • Multiple offenses
  • Multiple-conviction paradox
  • Punishment
  • Recidivist premium
  • Successive convictions


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