Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-Based Approach
Posted: 16 Jun 2008
Date Written: Spring 2007
We estimate the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. Inmates housed in higher security levels are no less likely to recidivate than those housed in minimum security; if anything, our estimates suggest that harsher prison conditions lead to more post-release crime. Though small sample sizes limit the precision of our estimates, we argue that our findings may have important implications for prison policy, and that our methodology is likely to be applicable beyond the particular context we study.
Keywords: K42, Z13, J62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation