How should inmates be released from prison? An assessment of parole versus fixed-sentence regimes
AbstractOver the past 30 years, many states have abolished parole boards, which traditionally have had the discretion to release inmates before the expiration of their full sentence, in favor of fixed-sentence regimes in which the original sentence is binding. However, if prison time lowers recidivism risk and if parole boards can accurately estimate inmates' recidivism risk, then relative to a fixed-sentence regime, parole can provide allocative-efficiency benefits (costly prison space is allocated to the highest-risk offenders) and incentive benefits (prisoners know they must reduce their recidivism risk to gain an early release, so invest in their own rehabilitation). Exploiting quasi-experiments from the state of Georgia, I show that prison time reduces recidivism risk and that parole boards set prison time in an allocatively efficient manner. Prisoners respond to these incentives; after a reform that eliminated parole for certain offenders, they accumulated a greater number of disciplinary infractions, completed fewer prison rehabilitative programs, and recidivated at higher rates than inmates unaffected by the reform. I estimate that eliminating parole for all prisoners would increase the prison population by 10% while also increasing the crime rate through deleterious effects on recidivism. JEL Codes: H76, K14, K40. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.
Volume (Year): 128 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Contact details of provider:
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
- K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
- K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Arlen GuarÃn & Carlos Medina & Jorge AndrÃ©s 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.
- Arlen GuarÃn & Carlos Medina & Jorge AndrÃ©s Tamayo, 2013. "The Effects of Punishment of Crime in Colombia on Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Human Capital Formation," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 010972, BANCO DE LA REPÃšBLICA.
- Arlen Guarin & Carlos Medina & Jorge Andres Tamayo, 2013. "The Effects of Punishment of Crime in Colombia on Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Human Capital Formation," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-420, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
- Alain Cohn & Michel AndrÃ© MarÃ©chal & Thomas Noll, 2013. "Bad boys: the effect of criminal identity on dishonesty," ECON - Working Papers, Department of Economics - University of Zurich 132, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.