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The Location of Women's Prisons and the Deterrence Effect of 'Harder' Time

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  • Kelly Bedard

    (UC - Santa Barbara)

  • Eric Helland

    (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

Most studies of the deterrence effect of incarceration treat a year in prison as having the same deterrence effect regardless of the conditions of incarceration. In contrast, we estimate both the impact of custody rate and prison location changes on female crime rates. We take advantage of the natural experiment created by recent expansions of the female penal system; many states witnessed a rapid doubling of prison capacity. The physical expansion of the penal system decreased the distance to prisons for some cities while increasing it for others. Movement in both directions is particularly helpful because it ensures that we are not identifying relationships off coincidental one-directional trends. Our results suggest that prison location has a sizable deterrence effect. Increasing the average distance to a woman’s prison by 40 miles reduces the female violent crime rate by approximately 7 percent.

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Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2000-06.

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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2000-06

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  1. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 583-608, October.
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  8. Jeff Grogger & Mike Willis, 1998. "The Introduction of Crack Cocaine and the Rise in Urban Crime Rates," NBER Working Papers 6353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
  10. 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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  12. Kenneth Avio, 1998. "The Economics of Prisons," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-175, September.
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  15. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Robert Witt & Ann Dryden Witte, 1998. "Crime, Imprisonment, and Female Labor Force Participation: A Time-Series Approach," NBER Working Papers 6786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Waldfogel, Joel, 1994. "Does conviction have a persistent effect on income and employment?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 103-119, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Engelhardt, Bryan & Rocheteau, Guillaume & Rupert, Peter, 2007. "Crime and the Labor Market in a Search Model with Pairwise-Efficient Separations," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt72r6g75d, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2008. "Prison Conditions and Recidivism," IZA Discussion Papers 3395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Engelhardt, Bryan & Rocheteau, Guillaume & Rupert, Peter, 2008. "Crime and the labor market: A search model with optimal contracts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1876-1891, October.

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