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The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence from Several Italian Collective Pardons

Listed author(s):
  • Barbarino, Alessandro

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

    ()

    (University of Essex)

We estimate the "incapacitation effect" on crime using variation in Italian prison population driven by eight collective pardons passed between 1962 and 1995. The prison releases are sudden – within one day –, very large – up to 35 percent of the entire prison population – and happen nationwide. Exploiting this quasi-natural experiment we break the simultaneity of crime and prisoners as in Levitt (1996) and, in addition, use the national character of the pardons to separately identify incapacitation from changes in deterrence. The elasticity of total crime with respect to incapacitation is between -20 and -35 percent. A cost-benefit analysis suggests that Italy's prison population is below its optimal level.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6360.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6360.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2014, 6(1), 1-37
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6360
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  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.
  2. Paolo Buonanno & Daniel Montolio & Paolo Vanin, 2009. "Does Social Capital Reduce Crime?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(1), pages 145-170, 02.
  3. 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 343-363, April.
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 454-460, May.
  5. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, 04.
  6. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  7. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1318-1347, December.
  8. 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.
  9. Claudio Detotto & Marco Vannini, 2010. "Counting the cost of crime in Italy," Global Crime, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 421-435, November.
  10. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 226-267, February.
  11. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "A Model of Optimal Incapacitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 107-110, May.
  12. H. Naci Mocan & R. Kaj Gittings, 2001. "Pardons, Executions and Homicide," NBER Working Papers 8639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," Working Papers 858, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. repec:pri:cepsud:97ashenfelter is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Marselli, Riccardo & Vannini, Marco, 1997. "Estimating a crime equation in the presence of organized crime: Evidence from Italy," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 89-113, March.
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