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Prison Conditions and Recidivism

Francesco Drago

University of Naples Federico II

Roberto Galbiati

CNRS (umr EconomiX) Paris; Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Pietro Vertova

Bocconi University

August 3, 2009

CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper

This paper examines the impact of prison conditions on future criminal behaviour. The analysis is based on a unique dataset on the post-release behaviour of 25,000 Italian former prison inmates. We use an exogenous variation in prison assignment as a means of identifying the effects of prison overcrowding, deaths in prison, and degree of isolation on the probability of re-offending. We find do not find compelling evidence of deterrent effects of prison severity. The measures of prison severity do not affect negatively the probability of recidivism. Instead, all point estimates suggest that harsh prison conditions increase post-release criminal activity, though they are not always precisely estimated.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Crime, Prison, Deterrence

JEL Classification: K42, J18

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Date posted: August 3, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Drago, Francesco and Galbiati, Roberto and Vertova, Pietro, Prison Conditions and Recidivism (August 3, 2009). CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1443093 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1443093

Contact Information

Francesco Drago (Contact Author)
University of Naples Federico II ( email )
via Medina 40
Roberto Galbiati
CNRS (umr EconomiX) Paris ( email )
200 Avenue de la République
Nanterre cedex, Nanterre Cedex 92000
Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )
Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Pietro Vertova
Bocconi University ( email )
Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
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