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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

  • M. Keith Chen

    (Harvard University)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (Harvard University)

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.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/le/papers/0304/0304003.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Law and Economics with number 0304003.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 21 Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0304003
Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 29 ; figures: included
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Patrick Bayer & Randi Pintoff & David E. Pozen, 2003. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Working Papers 864, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1778, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. 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.
  5. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  6. 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 343-63, April.
  7. Jeffrey R. Kling & David Weiman & Bruce Western, 2001. "The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration," Working Papers 829, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David S. Lee, 2001. "The Electoral Advantage to Incumbency and Voters' Valuation of Politicians' Experience: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Elections to the U.S..," NBER Working Papers 8441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  11. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-79, June.
  12. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
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