Leave the Door Open? Prison Conditions and Recidivism
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
We estimate the effect on recidivism of replacing time served in a common closed-cell prison
with time served in an open-cell one. We deal with the endogenous assignment of inmates to
different prison regimes using variation that is driven by nearby prisons’ overcrowding. Switching
regimes for a year reduces recidivism by around 6 percentage points (or pp). The effects are largest
for inmates with low levels of education and are weak for violent and for hardened criminals.
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