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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelly Bedard & Eric Helland, "undated". "The Location of Women's Prisons and the Deterrence Effect of 'Harder' Time," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-06, Claremont Colleges.
  • Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2000-06
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2011. "Prison Conditions and Recidivism," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 103-130.
    2. 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.
    3. Jonathan Klick & Alexander Tabarrok, 2010. "Police, Prisons, and Punishment: The Empirical Evidence on Crime Deterrence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. 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.

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