Prison Conditions and Recidivism
American Law and Economics Review
103 - 130 p.
Prison conditions, Recidivism, Criminal justice system, Criminal behavior
The authors examine the impact of prison conditions on future criminal behavior. The take over is based on a unique dataset on the post-release behavior of about twenty thousand Italian former prison inmates. The authors use variation in prison assignment as a means of identifying the effects of prison overcrowding, deaths in prison, and degree of isolation on the probability of reoffending. They do not find compellingevidence of (specific) deterrent effects of experienced prison severity. The measures of prison severity do not reduce the probability of recidivism. Instead, all point estimates suggest that harsh prison conditions increase post-release criminal activity, though they are not always precisely estimated.