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Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-based Approach

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  • Jesse M. Shapiro
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    Abstract

    We estimate the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. Inmates housed in higher security levels are no less likely to recidivate than those housed in minimum security; if anything, our estimates suggest that harsher prison conditions lead to more post-release crime. Though small sample sizes limit the precision of our estimates, we argue that our findings may have important implications for prison policy, and that our methodology is likely to be applicable beyond the particular context we study. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahm006
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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 9 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 1-29

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:9:y:2007:i:1:p:1-29

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    Cited by:
    1. Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal & Thomas Noll, 2013. "Bad boys: the effect of criminal identity on dishonesty," ECON - Working Papers 132, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 199-218, April.
    3. Benjamin Monnery, 2013. "The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data," Working Papers halshs-00822847, HAL.
    4. Arlen Guarín & Carlos Medina & Jorge Andrés Tamayo, 2013. "The Effects of Punishment of Crime in Colombia on Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Human Capital Formation," Borradores de Economia 774, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Benjamin Hansen, 2014. "Punishment and Deterrence: Evidence from Drunk Driving," NBER Working Papers 20243, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ignacio Munyo, . "The Juvenile Crime Dilemma," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. David S. Abrams, 2012. "Estimating the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 32-56, October.
    8. Volokh, Alexander, 2010. "Privatization, free riding, and industry-expanding lobbying," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 62-70, March.
    9. Blake, Garfield O., 2014. "America's deadly export: Evidence from cross-country panel data of deportation and homicide rates," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 156-168.
    10. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Expected recidivism among young offenders: Comparing specific deterrence under juvenile and adult criminal law," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 414-429.
    11. Maurin, Eric & Ouss, Aurelie, 2009. "Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 3990, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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