Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach
M. Keith Chen
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; Yale School of Management; Cowles Foundation
Jesse M. Shapiro
University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1450
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 conditions on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We find that harsher prison conditions are associated with significantly more post-release crime.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Crime, Prison, Recidivism, Social Capital, Peer Effects, Regression Discontinuity
JEL Classification: K14, K42, J24, H4
Date posted: November 19, 2003
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