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The Myths and Realities of Correctional Severity: Evidence from the National Corrections Reporting Program on Sentencing Practices

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  • John F. Pfaff
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    Abstract

    The forces driving U.S. prison growth are poorly understood. This article examines one factor that has received insufficient attention: changes in time served. It demonstrates that time served has not risen dramatically in recent years, even declining in some jurisdictions. It also shows that time served is fairly short: median release times are approximately one to two years. Thus, admissions practices, not longer sentences, appear to drive prison growth. This article also examines whether time served varies across different types of inmates. Young, Hispanic, and violent offenders appear to serve longer sentences; race and sex appear to be of minor importance. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahr010
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 491-531

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:13:y:2011:i:2:p:491-531

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    Cited by:
    1. Derek Neal & Armin Rick, 2014. "The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch," NBER Working Papers 20283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Brian Bell & Anna Bindler & Stephen Machin, 2014. "Crime Scars: Recessions and the Making of Career Criminals," CEP Discussion Papers dp1284, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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