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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

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Author Info

  • M. Keith Chen

    (Harvard University)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Some two million Americans are currently incarcerated, with roughly six hundred thousand to be released this year. Despite this, little is known about the effects of confinement on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We find that worsening prison conditions significantly increases post-release crime, and that this increase is skewed towards the commission of violent crimes.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/le/papers/0304/0304003.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Law and Economics with number 0304003.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 21 Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0304003

Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 29 ; figures: included
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: prisons; regression discontinuity; security level;

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References

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  1. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," NBER Working Papers 5744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  7. Edward E. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1738, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  9. Patrick Bayer & Randi Pintoff & David E. Pozen, 2003. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Working Papers 864, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  10. David S. Lee, 2001. "The Electoral Advantage to Incumbency and Voters' Valuation of Politicians' Experience: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Elections to the U.S..," NBER Working Papers 8441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-79, June.
  12. Jeffrey R. Kling & David Weiman & Bruce Western, 2001. "The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration," Working Papers 829, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2008. "Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates? Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3710, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2006. "Strong and Weak Ties in Employment and Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 5448, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Social Networks and Crime Decisions: The Role of Social Structure in Facilitating Delinquent Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 3966, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2008. "What Do Economists Know About Crime?," NBER Working Papers 13759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Patrick J. Bayer & Randi Pintoff & David Emanuel Pozen, 2004. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm418, Yale School of Management.

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