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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

Author

Listed:
  • M. Keith Chen

    (Harvard University)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Some two million Americans are currently incarcerated, with roughly six hundred thousand to be released this year. Despite this, little is known about the effects of confinement on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We find that worsening prison conditions significantly increases post-release crime, and that this increase is skewed towards the commission of violent crimes.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Keith Chen & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach," Law and Economics 0304003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0304003
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 29 ; figures: included
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Crinò, Rosario & Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2019. "Marginal deterrence at work," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 586-612.
    2. Horst Entorf & Hannes Spengler, 2015. "Crime, prosecutors, and the certainty of conviction," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 167-201, February.
    3. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2004. "Social Networks And Crime Decisions: The Role Of Social Structure In Facilitating Delinquent Behavior," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 939-958, August.
    4. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2007. "Strong and weak ties in employment and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 203-233, February.
    5. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    6. Georgiou, Georgios, 2014. "Does increased post-release supervision of criminal offenders reduce recidivism? Evidence from a statewide quasi-experiment," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 221-243.
    7. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "The strength of weak ties in crime," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 209-236, February.
    8. Horst Entorf & Hannes Spengler, 2008. "Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates?: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 837, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Villamizar-Villegas, Mauricio & Pinzón-Puerto, Freddy A. & Ruiz-Sánchez, María Alejandra, 2020. "A Comprehensive History of Regression Discontinuity Designs: An Empirical Survey of the last 60 Years," Working papers 38, Red Investigadores de Economía.
    10. Entorf, Horst, 2007. "Evaluation des Maßregelvollzugs: Grundzüge einer Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 35718, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
    11. Bayer, Patrick & Pintoff, Randi & Pozen, David E., 2003. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Center Discussion Papers 28511, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    12. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2010. "What Do Economists Know about Crime?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 269-302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    prisons; regression discontinuity; security level;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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