Criminal Capital Persistence: Evidence from 90,000 Inmates’ Releases

47 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2021

See all articles by Maria A. Escobar

Maria A. Escobar

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF)

Santiago Tobon

Universidad EAFIT

Martín Vanegas-Arias

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF)

Date Written: June 22, 2021

Abstract

We study persistence in criminal capital by looking at the effects of inmates’ releases on crime around prisons in Colombia. Leveraging detailed geographic and temporal information on the universe of releases from all prisons and crime reports, we find that property crimes are 16% higher around prisons on days inmates are released. Inmates specialized in property crimes drive the impacts. Improvements in non-criminal human capital or longer incarceration spells do not mitigate these effects. These results suggest the specific deterrence or rehabilitation effects of incarceration are weak for individuals with higher initial levels of criminal capital. We also document two externalities resulting from incarcerating specialized criminals. First, we find evidence of adverse peer effects. Second, in a back-of-the-envelope estimation, we document that crime incidence due to prison location drops property values and property tax revenues. Our results raise concerns about the usefulness of incarceration in its most widely adopted form.

Keywords: D04, H41, J24, K14, K42

JEL Classification: crime, violence, recidivism, prisons, Colombia

Suggested Citation

Escobar Bernal, Maria Antonia and Tobon, Santiago and Vanegas Arias, Martín, Criminal Capital Persistence: Evidence from 90,000 Inmates’ Releases (June 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3872057 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3872057

Maria Antonia Escobar Bernal

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF) ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogotá
Colombia

Santiago Tobon (Contact Author)

Universidad EAFIT ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogota
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.santiagotobon.co

Martín Vanegas Arias

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF) ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogotá
Colombia

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