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Mass Imprisonment, Mass Release, and Crime Rates

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Abstract:

During the past 33 years, incarceration rates have risen by more than 300%, a phenomenon that has been referred to as mass imprisonment. While some credit this incarceration binge for the significant decline in serious crime over the last 15 years, others are skeptical. Some have even suggested that the massive scale of incarceration has actually done more long-term harm than short-term good for public safety. The historic rise in prison admissions has also meant a dramatic increase in the scale of prison releases, and questions have recently emerged about the ability of communities to successfully absorb the large influx of returning ex-offenders. We add to the research literature in this area by examining potential nonlinearities and tipping points in the impact of prison releases on crime as well as the potential moderating role of labor market conditions. Using a state panel dataset (1978-2004), our results suggest that the effect of prison releases on crime is conditioned by both scale and socio-economic context. Moreover, the results suggest that the crime-increasing effects of mass incarceration appear to outweigh any crime-reducing effects, particularly in the context of high unemployment rates and economic recession.
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Association:
Name: ASC Annual Meeting
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http://www.asc41.com


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p371763_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Hannon, Lance. and DeFina, Robert. "Mass Imprisonment, Mass Release, and Crime Rates" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASC Annual Meeting, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA, Nov 04, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p371763_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hannon, L. and DeFina, R. , 2009-11-04 "Mass Imprisonment, Mass Release, and Crime Rates" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASC Annual Meeting, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p371763_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: During the past 33 years, incarceration rates have risen by more than 300%, a phenomenon that has been referred to as mass imprisonment. While some credit this incarceration binge for the significant decline in serious crime over the last 15 years, others are skeptical. Some have even suggested that the massive scale of incarceration has actually done more long-term harm than short-term good for public safety. The historic rise in prison admissions has also meant a dramatic increase in the scale of prison releases, and questions have recently emerged about the ability of communities to successfully absorb the large influx of returning ex-offenders. We add to the research literature in this area by examining potential nonlinearities and tipping points in the impact of prison releases on crime as well as the potential moderating role of labor market conditions. Using a state panel dataset (1978-2004), our results suggest that the effect of prison releases on crime is conditioned by both scale and socio-economic context. Moreover, the results suggest that the crime-increasing effects of mass incarceration appear to outweigh any crime-reducing effects, particularly in the context of high unemployment rates and economic recession.


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