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December 13, 2015

"The Effect of Prison Sentence Length on Recidivism: Evidence from Random Judicial Assignment"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new empirical paper authored by Michael Roach and Max Schanzenbach available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Whether punishment promotes or deters future criminal activity by the convicted offender is a key public policy concern. Longer prison sentences further isolate offenders from the legitimate labor force and may promote the formation of criminal networks in prison.  On the other hand, greater initial punishment may have a deterrence effect on the individual being punished, sometimes called “specific deterrence,” through learning or the rehabilitative effect of prison.

We test the effect of prison sentence length on recidivism by exploiting a unique quasi-experimental design from adult sentences within a courthouse in Seattle, Washington.  Offenders who plead guilty are randomly assigned to a sentencing judge, which leads to random differences in prison sentence length depending on the sentencing judge’s proclivities. We find that one-month extra prison sentence reduces the rate of recidivism by about one percentage point, with possibly larger effects for those with limited criminal histories.  However, the reduction in recidivism comes almost entirely in the first year of release, which we interpret as consistent with prison’s rehabilitative role.

December 13, 2015 at 11:31 PM | Permalink


One of the benefits of PTSD is future avoidance of the traumatic event. Some may last a lifetime.

Some of the rewarding aspect of prison include total care, as if a 10 year old child again. Networking and continuing education in criminal methodologies. Hiding out from rivals seeking to assassinate one. Low demands on intellect, hard work, or physical ability, compared to the Darwinian environment of the hood. Vacation style daily schedule and activities. In some corrupt prison, sex, drugs, partying. In others,, transgender operations for free.

The punitive aspects are, 1) caged; 2) with vicious animals; 3) enforced leisure, boredom, and atrophy of skills.

It is a mixed effect.

In fairness, insulin is a miracle drug for a chronic condition. If you stopped taking it, no one would say, it is not a good remedy because in three days, blood sugars start to rise again.

So a year long effect after release looks pretty good for an effect on a chronic condition.

The way one has to take insulin daily, one should be punished frequently and harshly for every crime, and not one out ten, as with prison. Ten lashes for every crime would drop crime as insulin drops blood sugar daily. Also cheap, if insurance coverage for treatment of wounds is prohibited. Nor should treatment blocking mental PTSD from the lashing be allowed.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 14, 2015 10:26:05 AM

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