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Prison Crowding, Recidivism, and Early Release in Early Rhode Island

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  • Howard Bodenhorn

Abstract

Prison overcrowding is a perennial problem and several states are under court order to reduce crowding. The long-term solution to crowding has been more prisons. The short-term solution is early release. Early release programs can be effective when they balance the savings of reduced prison costs against the costs of recidivism by released convicts. This paper uses historical data to investigate how prison officials altered their early release policies in the face of prison crowding and rising real per prisoner detention costs. The empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that prison officials make use of information about the risks of recidivism revealed at trial and during incarceration to make informed decisions about whom to release and when.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard Bodenhorn, 2015. "Prison Crowding, Recidivism, and Early Release in Early Rhode Island," NBER Working Papers 20837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20837
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2009. "Criminal sentencing in 19th-century Pennsylvania," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 287-298, July.
    2. David Friedman, 1999. "Why Not Hang Them All: The Virtues of Inefficient Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 259-269, December.
    3. Howard Bodenhorn & Carolyn M. Moehling & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2010. "Immigration: America's nineteenth century "law and order problem"?," NBER Working Papers 16266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2010. "Migration and Culture," Working Papers 2010-17, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    5. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, And Crime: A Human Capital Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 811-843, August.
    6. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2005. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(288), pages 655-681, November.
    7. Ilyana Kuziemko, 2013. "How should inmates be released from prison? An assessment of parole versus fixed-sentence regimes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 371-424.
    8. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
    9. Howard Bodenhorn & Carolyn Moehling & Gregory N. Price, 2012. "Short Criminals: Stature and Crime in Early America," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 393-419.
    10. Dan Bernhardt & Steeve Mongrain & Joanne Roberts, 2012. "Rehabilitated or Not: An Informational Theory of Parole Decisions," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(2), pages 186-210.
    11. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
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    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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