Some two million Americans are currently incarcerated, with roughly six hundred thousand to be released this year. Despite this, little is known about the eﬀects of conﬁnement conditions on the post-release lives of inmates. Focusing on post-release criminal activity, we identify the causal eﬀect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels. We ﬁnd that harsher prison conditions are associated with signiﬁcantly more post-release crime.
Chen, Keith M. and Shapiro, Jesse M., "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach" (2004). Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers. 1726.