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The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence from Several Italian Collective Pardons

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  • Barbarino, Alessandro

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

    ()
    (University of Essex)

Abstract

We estimate the "incapacitation effect" on crime using variation in Italian prison population driven by eight collective pardons passed between 1962 and 1995. The prison releases are sudden – within one day –, very large – up to 35 percent of the entire prison population – and happen nationwide. Exploiting this quasi-natural experiment we break the simultaneity of crime and prisoners as in Levitt (1996) and, in addition, use the national character of the pardons to separately identify incapacitation from changes in deterrence. The elasticity of total crime with respect to incapacitation is between -20 and -35 percent. A cost-benefit analysis suggests that Italy's prison population is below its optimal level.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6360.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2014, 6(1), 1-37
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6360

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Keywords: deterrence; amnesty; pardon; crime; incapacitation;

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References

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  1. William Spelman, 2005. "Jobs or jails? The crime drop in Texas," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 133-165.
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Cited by:
  1. 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).
  2. Paolo Buonanno & Steven Raphael, 2013. "Incarceration and Incapacitation: Evidence from the 2006 Italian Collective Pardon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2437-65, October.
  3. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-212, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto, 2010. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behaviour: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5414, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. repec:clg:wpaper:2009-06 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2011. "Optimal Criminal Behavior and the Disutility of Jail: Theory and Evidence On Bank Robberies," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 220, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  7. Campaniello, Nadia & Diasakos, Theodoros & Mastrobuoni, Giovanni, 2014. "Rationalizable Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates' Expected Length of Sentence," IZA Discussion Papers 8333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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