Saturday, September 02, 2017

Social costs of incarceration in Houston are high

For Grits' ever growing to-read pile: "The Criminal and Labor Market Implications of Incarceration" (2014) studying Harris County.
ABSTRACT. This paper investigates the pre- and post-release impacts of incarceration on criminal behavior, economic wellbeing and family formation using new data from Harris County, Texas. The research design identifies exogenous variation in the extensive and intensive margins of incarceration by leveraging the random assignment of defendants to courtrooms. I develop a new data-driven estimation procedure to address multidimensional and non-monotonic sentencing patterns observed in the courtrooms in my data. My findings indicate that incarceration generates modest incapacitation effects, which are offset in the long-run by an increased likelihood of defendants reoffending after being released. [emphasis added] Additional evidence finds that incarceration reduces post-release employment and wages, increases take-up of food stamps, decreases likelihood of marriage and increases the likelihood of divorce. Based on changes in defendant behavior alone, I estimate that a one-year prison term for marginal defendants conservatively generates $56,200 to $66,800 in social costs, which would require substantial general deterrence in the population to at least be welfare neutral.
H/T: John Pfaff.

No comments: