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Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment

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  • Maurin, Eric

    ()
    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Ouss, Aurelie

    ()
    (Paris School of Economics)

Abstract

This paper exploits the collective pardon granted to individuals incarcerated in French prisons on the 14th of July, 1996 (Bastille Day) to identify the effect of collective sentence reductions on recidivism. The collective pardon generated a very significant discontinuity in the relationship between the number of weeks of sentence reduction granted to inmates and their prospective date of release. We show that the same discontinuity exists in the relationship between recidivism probability five years after the release and prospective date of release. Overall, the Bastille Day quasi experiment suggests that collective sentence reductions increase recidivism and do not represent a cost-effective way to reduce incarceration rates or prisons' overcrowding.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3990.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3990

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Keywords: crime; prison; deterrence effect; recidivism;

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References

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  1. Alessandro Barbarino & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2007. "The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence From Several Italian Collective Pardons," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 55, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  2. Daniel Kessler & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," NBER Working Papers 6484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, 04.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey R. Kling, 2004. "Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings," Working Papers 873, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Ilyana Kuziemko, 2007. "Going Off Parole: How the Elimination of Discretionary Prison Release Affects the Social Cost of Crime," NBER Working Papers 13380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  8. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-based Approach," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-29.
  11. Randi Hjalmarsson, 2009. "Juvenile Jails: A Path to the Straight and Narrow or to Hardened Criminality?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 779-809, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Benjamin Monnery, 2013. "The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data," Working Papers 1320, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Bushway, Shawn & DeAngelo, Gregory & Hansen, Benjamin, 2013. "Deterability by age," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 70-81.

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