IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp7838.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Incarceration and Crime: Evidence from California's Public Safety Realignment Reform

Author

Listed:
  • Lofstrom, Magnus

    () (Public Policy Institute of California)

  • Raphael, Steven

    () (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

We evaluate the effect of perhaps the largest exogenous decline in a state's incarceration rate in U.S. history on local crime rates. We assess the effects of a recent reform in California that caused a sharp and permanent reduction in the state's incarceration rate. We exploit the large variation across California counties in the effect of this reform on county-specific prison incarceration rates. We find very little evidence of an effect of the large reduction in incarceration rates on violent crime and evidence of modest effects on property crime, auto theft in particular. These effects are considerably smaller than existing estimates in the literature based on panel data for periods of time when the U.S. incarceration rate was considerably lower. We corroborate theses cross-county results with a synthetic-cohort analysis of state crime rates in California. This state-wide analysis confirms our findings from the county-level analysis. In conjunction with existing published research, the results from this study support the hypothesis of a crime-prison effect that diminishes with the scale of incarceration.

Suggested Citation

  • Lofstrom, Magnus & Raphael, Steven, 2013. "Incarceration and Crime: Evidence from California's Public Safety Realignment Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 7838, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7838
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp7838.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-351.
    2. 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, April.
    3. 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, August.
    4. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
    5. Aaron Chalfin & Justin McCrary, 2013. "The Effect of Police on Crime: New Evidence from U.S. Cities, 1960-2010," NBER Working Papers 18815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2017. "The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12097, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Francesco Sobbrio, 2017. "Voters' Response to Public Policies: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6826, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    realignment; prison; incarceration; incapacitation; crime; reform;

    JEL classification:

    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7838. 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). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.