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An empirical analysis of imprisoning drug offenders

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  • Kuziemko, Ilyana
  • Levitt, Steven D.

Abstract

The number of prisoners incarcerated on drug-related offenses rose fifteen-fold between 1980 and 2000. This paper provides the first systematic empirical analysis of the implications of that dramatic shift in public policy. We show that the increase in drug prisoners led to reductions in expected time served for other crimes, especially for less serious offenses. Reductions in time served, however, increased other crimes by no more than a few percent. Moreover, incarcerating drug offenders is found to be almost as effective in reducing violent and property crime as locking up other types of offenders. We estimate that cocaine prices are 10-15 percent higher today as a consequence of increases in drug punishment since 1985. Based on previous estimates of the price elasticity of demand for cocaine, this implies a reduction in cocaine consumed of as much as 20 percent.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2004)
Issue (Month): 9-10 (August)
Pages: 2043-2066

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:88:y:2004:i:9-10:p:2043-2066

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. R. L. Pacula & M. Grossman & F. J. Chaloupka & P. M. O'Malley & L. Johnston & M. C. Farrelly, 2000. "Marijuana and Youth," NBER Working Papers 7703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
  4. Desimone, Jeff, 2001. "The Effect of Cocaine Prices on Crime," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 627-43, October.
  5. Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, 2000. "An Economic Analysis Of A Drug-Selling Gang'S Finances," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 755-789, August.
  6. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-51, May.
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  9. Lee, Li Way, 1993. "Would Harassing Drug Users Work?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 939-59, October.
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  12. Frank J. Chaloupka & Michael Grossman & John A. Tauras, 1999. "The Demand for Cocaine and Marijuana by Youth," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 133-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Liu, Jin-Long & Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K. & Chou, Shin-Yi, 1999. "The price elasticity of opium in Taiwan, 1914-1942," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 795-810, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 163-190, Winter.
  2. Pope, Jaren C., 2008. "Fear of crime and housing prices: Household reactions to sex offender registries," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 601-614, November.
  3. Ian Irvine & Kuan Xu, 2002. "Crime, Punishment and Poverty in the United States," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive uspov, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  4. Congdon-Hohman, Joshua M., 2013. "The lasting effects of crime: The relationship of discovered methamphetamine laboratories and home values," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 31-41.
  5. Dhaval Dave, 2004. "The Effects of Cocaine and Heroin Prices on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits," NBER Working Papers 10619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dhaval Dave, 2004. "Illicit Drug Use Among Arrestees and Drug Prices," NBER Working Papers 10648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Dave, Dhaval, 2008. "Illicit drug use among arrestees, prices and policy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 694-714, March.
  8. Michael Grossman, 2004. "Individual Behaviors and Substance Use: The Role of Price," NBER Working Papers 10948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gathmann, Christina, 2004. "The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling along the Southwestern Border," IZA Discussion Papers 1004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Gathmann, Christina, 2008. "Effects of enforcement on illegal markets: Evidence from migrant smuggling along the southwestern border," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1926-1941, October.
  11. DeAngelo, Gregory, 2012. "Making space for crime: A spatial analysis of criminal competition," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 42-51.
  12. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Dhaval Dave, 2004. "Demand for Illicit Drugs by Pregnant Women," NBER Working Papers 10688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Carlos Casacuberta & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "Aportes del análisis económico al estudio de las drogas," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0112, Department of Economics - dECON.

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