More Time, Less Crime? Estimating the Incapacitative Effect of Sentence Enhancements
Sentence enhancements may reduce crime both by deterring potential criminals and by incapacitating previous offenders, removing these possible recidivists from society for longer periods. I estimate the incapacitative effect of longer sentences by exploiting a 2001 change in Maryland's sentencing guidelines that reduced the sentences of 23-, 24-, and 25-year-olds with juvenile delinquent records by a mean of 222 days. I find that, during this sentence disenhancement, offenders were, on average, arrested for 2.8 criminal acts and were involved in 1.4-1.6 serious crimes per person during the period when they would have otherwise been incarcerated. Although my findings are significantly lower than previous estimates of incapacitation, I find that, on the margin, the social benefit of the crimes averted by incapacitation is slightly higher than the marginal cost to the state of imposing a 1-year sentence enhancement. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Devah Pager, 2003. "The mark of a criminal record," Natural Field Experiments 00319, The Field Experiments Website.
- 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.
- Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169-169.
- Avi-Itzhak, Benjamin & Shinnar, Reuel, 1973. "Quantitative models in crime control," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 185-217.
- Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
- Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-322, June.
- John J. DiIulio, 1996. "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
- Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
- Kuziemko, Ilyana & Levitt, Steven D., 2004. "An empirical analysis of imprisoning drug offenders," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2043-2066, August.
- Ilyana Kuziemko & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of Imprisoning Drug Offenders," NBER Working Papers 8489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:3:p:551-579. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.