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The Quality of Life in Prisons: Do Educational Programs Reduce In-Prison Conflicts?

In: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America

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  • María Laura Alzúa
  • Catherine Rodriguez
  • Edgar Villa

Abstract

The harshness of punishment society chooses to impose on crime offenders is mandated by law. However, the quality of life in prison can make this punishment harsher. This creates a variation in the severity of punishment which is not legislated and may differ from society's taste for penalties. Indicators of in prison violence and conflicts seem to be appropriate proxy variables for prison conditions. Using indicators of in prison violent behavior, we use an exogenous source in education participation in educational programs in order to asses the effect of education on such measures of conflict. Applying instrumental variables techniques to census data for Argentine prisons, we find that educational programs significantly reduce indicators of property damages in prison. Such reductions amounts to a 60 percent decrease relative to the mean level of property damages.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Edwards & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dite09-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11843.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11843

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    1. Di Tella, Rafael & Dubra, Juan, 2008. "Crime and punishment in the "American Dream"," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1564-1584, July.
    2. John H. Tyler & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006. "Prison-Based Education and Re-Entry into the Mainstream Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 12114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
    4. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2007. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," NBER Working Papers 12932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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