The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment
In this paper we test for the theory of deterrence. We exploit the natural experiment provided by the Collective Clemency Bill passed by the Italian Parliament in July 2006. As a consequence of the provisions of the bill, expected punishment to former inmates recommitting a crime can be considered as good as randomly assigned. Based on a unique data set on post-release behaviour of former inmates, we find that an additional month in expected sentence reduces the propensity to recommit a crime by 1.24 percent: this corroborates the general deterrence hypothesis. However, this effect depends on the time previously served in prison: the behavioural response to an additional month of expected sentence decreases with the length of the prison spell. This second result can be hardly reconciled with the specific deterrence hypothesis according to which a stronger past experience of punishment should increase the sensitivity to future expected sanctions.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
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.:
- Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006.
"Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings,"
NBER Working Papers
12003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999.
"Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation,"
Journal of Law and Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-63, April.
- 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.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995.
"Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?,"
NBER Working Papers
5268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
- Levitt, Steven D. & Miles, Thomas J., 2007. "Empirical Study of Criminal Punishment," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
- 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.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
- David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Crime, Punishment, and Myopia," NBER Working Papers 11491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2007. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," NBER Working Papers 12932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Emily G. Owens, 2009. "More Time, Less Crime? Estimating the Incapacitative Effect of Sentence Enhancements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 551-579, 08.
This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
- The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (2009) in ReplicationWiki
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2912. 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: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.