Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment

39 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2009

See all articles by Eric Maurin

Eric Maurin

Paris School of Economics (PSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Aurelie Ouss

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Abstract

This paper exploits the collective pardon granted to individuals incarcerated in French prisons on the 14th of July, 1996 (Bastille Day) to identify the effect of collective sentence reductions on recidivism. The collective pardon generated a very significant discontinuity in the relationship between the number of weeks of sentence reduction granted to inmates and their prospective date of release. We show that the same discontinuity exists in the relationship between recidivism probability five years after the release and prospective date of release. Overall, the Bastille Day quasi experiment suggests that collective sentence reductions increase recidivism and do not represent a cost-effective way to reduce incarceration rates or prisons' overcrowding.

Keywords: crime, prison, deterrence effect, recidivism

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Maurin, Eric and Ouss, Aurelie, Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3990. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1351154

Eric Maurin (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Aurelie Ouss

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

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