32 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2003
Date Written: January 2004
Some two million Americans are currently incarcerated, with roughly six hundred thousand to be released this year. Despite this, little is known about the effects of confinement conditions on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We find that harsher prison conditions are associated with significantly more post-release crime.
Keywords: Crime, Prison, Recidivism, Social Capital, Peer Effects, Regression Discontinuity
JEL Classification: K14, K42, J24, H4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Chen, M. Keith and Shapiro, Jesse M., Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach (January 2004). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1450. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=470301