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NCJ Number: 222610 Find in a Library
Title: Specifying the Relationship Between Crime and Prisons
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:24  Issue:2  Dated:June 2008  Pages:149-178
Author(s): William Spelman
Date Published: June 2008
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper applies the best available tests to the best available data in attempting to determine the most appropriate basic specification for equations that measure the effect of imprisonment rates on crime rates and crime rates on imprisonment rates.
Abstract: As expected, increases in prison populations are usually associated with decreases in subsequent crime rates. In addition, increases in crime rates are associated with increases in subsequent prison populations. Thus, crime and prisons apparently are simultaneously determined, and instrument variables are required to separate the effects of one from the other. On a short-term basis, however, violent and property crime rates are largely independent, so there is little harm in using separate equations to determine causes of each crime type. No previous analysis of these variables has adopted this specification in its entirety. This specification strongly suggests that current crime rates and prison populations are the result of an accumulation of many small changes in precursor variables over an extended period of time. Further, there is no long-term equilibrium relationship between crime and prison, only bidirectional causality in the short term. Apart from its technical uses, this specification has implications for thinking about the problem of crime and the primary response to it, i.e., incarceration. The first implication is that a large decrease in the crime rate can only be achieved in small increments over a long period. This implication is explained, along with the implication that crime reduction from imprisonment is related only to the incapacitation of the current prison population, with no deterrent effect on those offenders still active in the community. 11 tables and 70 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Convicted offender incapacitation; Crime control policies; Deterrence effectiveness; Effects of imprisonment; Incarceration; Mathematical modeling; Research methods
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