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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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crin�, Rosario & Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2017. "Marginal Deterrence at Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 12023, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Crime, Prosecutors, and the Certainty of Conviction," IZA Discussion Papers 5670, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "The strength of weak ties in crime," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 209-236, February.
    10. Horst Entorf & Hannes Spengler, 2008. "Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates?: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 837, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. Entorf, Horst, 2007. "Evaluation des Maßregelvollzugs: Grundzüge einer Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 183, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Crime; Prison; Recidivism; Social Capital; Peer Effects; Regression Discontinuity;

    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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