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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

Author

Listed:
  • M. Keith Chen

    (School of Management, Yale 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 conditions on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We find that harsher prison conditions are associated with significantly more post-release crime.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Keith Chen & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1450, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1450
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    File URL: https://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d14/d1450.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Crinò, Rosario & Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2019. "Marginal deterrence at work," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 586-612.
    2. Entorf, Horst, 2007. "Evaluation des Maßregelvollzugs: Grundzüge einer Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 35718, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
    3. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2008. "Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates? Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3710, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Horst Entorf & Hannes Spengler, 2015. "Crime, prosecutors, and the certainty of conviction," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 167-201, February.
    5. Bayer, Patrick & Pintoff, Randi & Pozen, David E., 2003. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Center Discussion Papers 28511, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    6. Georgiou, Georgios, 2014. "Does increased post-release supervision of criminal offenders reduce recidivism? Evidence from a statewide quasi-experiment," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 221-243.
    7. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2004. "Social Networks And Crime Decisions: The Role Of Social Structure In Facilitating Delinquent Behavior," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 939-958, August.
    8. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2010. "What Do Economists Know about Crime?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons For and From Latin America, pages 269-302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2007. "Strong and weak ties in employment and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 203-233, February.
    10. Mauricio Villamizar‐Villegas & Freddy A. Pinzon‐Puerto & Maria Alejandra Ruiz‐Sanchez, 2022. "A comprehensive history of regression discontinuity designs: An empirical survey of the last 60 years," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 1130-1178, September.
    11. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    12. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "The strength of weak ties in crime," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 209-236, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Crime; Prison; Recidivism; Social Capital; Peer Effects; Regression Discontinuity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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