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The Role of Prison in Recidivism

Kegon Tan and Mariyana Zapryanova

No 2019-083, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: Recidivism rates are a growing concern due to the high cost of imprisonment and the high rate of ex-prisoners returning back to prison. The factors leading to recidivism are multifaceted, but one policy-relevant and potentially important contributor is the composition of peer inmates. In this paper, we study the role of peer e?ects within a correctional facility using data on almost 80,000 individuals serving time in Georgia. We exploit randomness in peer-composition over time within prisons to identify e?ects of peers on recidivism rates. We ?nd no evidence of peer e?ects for property and drug-related crimes in the general prison population. However, we ?nd strong peer e?ects when we de?ne peer groups by race and age. Our ?ndings indicate that homophily plays a large part in determining the strength of peer exposure among prisoners in the same facility. Our ?ndings suggest that prison assignments can be a way to reduce recidivism for particular groups of prisoners.

Keywords: crime; recidivism; peer effects; prisons (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law, nep-net and nep-ure
Note: MIP
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