Is Prison Increasing Crime?

60 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2009 Last revised: 17 Jul 2012


Scholars have identified various ways in which incarceration may unintentionally cause crime. What the literature lacks, however, is an attempt to catalog all of the crime-causing, or "criminogenic," effects of incarceration, and estimate their aggregate impact. This Article makes an initial attempt to do just that. Drawing inferences from existing data, the Article estimates that as of roughly a decade ago, incarceration practices were driving up crime rates by at least 7 percent, and were preventing as little as 13 percent of would-be-crime. However, given trends since then, we may now be at or near a tipping point where prison is causing a net increase in crime. The implications of this phenomenon are also addressed.

Suggested Citation

Pritikin, Martin H., Is Prison Increasing Crime?. Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2008, p. 1049, 2008, Whittier Law School Research Paper No. 09-03, Available at SSRN:

Martin H. Pritikin (Contact Author)

Whittier Law School ( email )

3333 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
United States

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