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

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics