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Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach

Keith Chen and Jesse Shapiro ()

No 1450, Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers from Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University

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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K14 K42 J24 H4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law and nep-ure
Date: 2003-11
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Published in American Law and Economics Review (June 2007)

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