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The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants


  • Kristin F. Butcher
  • Anne Morrison Piehl


Using data on all new admissions to California state prisons in 1986, 1990, and 1996, we find that the foreign born have a very different offense mix from native-born inmates, with foreigners much more likely to be serving time for drug offenses. We document and discuss many of the substantial changes in the enforcement environment over this period, including the war on drugs, changes in public law expanding the classes eligible for deportation, and increases in the level of resources appropriated for enforcement activities targeting deportable aliens. These developments have resulted in much greater attention by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the incarceration of the foreign born. By 1996, the definition of deportable' was such that it covered essentially all noncitizens in the California prison system. Throughout the period, those foreign-born inmates designated by the California Department of Corrections to be released to INS custody serve substantially (6-12 percent) longer terms (conditional upon sentence length) than natives or other similar' foreigners. These longer terms of incarceration impose substantial costs on the state.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1999. "The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 6974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6974
    Note: LS PE CH

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent Immigrants: Unexpected Implications for Crime and Incarceration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
    2. Kessler, Daniel P & Piehl, Anne Morrison, 1998. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 256-276, October.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Anne Morrison Peihl, 1998. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction," JCPR Working Papers 29, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2005. "Why are immigrants' incarceration rates so low? evidence on selective immigration, deterrence, and deportation," Working Paper Series WP-05-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2014. "Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 177-219.
    3. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Cross-city evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 457-493.
    4. Carolyn Moehling & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2007. "Immigration and Crime in Early 20th Century America," Departmental Working Papers 200704, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    5. George J. Borjas & Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities: The Response of Wages, Employment, and Incarceration to Labor Supply Shocks," NBER Working Papers 12518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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