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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

32 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2003  

M. Keith Chen

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Jesse M. Shapiro

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2004

Abstract

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

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

Keith Chen (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/keith.chen/index.html

Jesse M. Shapiro

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2688 (Phone)
773-834-8172 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://home.uchicago.edu/~jmshapir/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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