Bhati, Avinash Singh; Piquero, Alex R.
October 2007
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology;Fall2007, Vol. 98 Issue 1, p207
Academic Journal
Despite record levels of incarceration and much discussion about the role that incarceration plays in influencing criminal activity, there does not yet exist a sound knowledge base about the extent to which incarceration exhibits a criminogenic, deterrent, or null effect on subsequent individual offending trajectories. This is an unfortunate happenstance since classic criminological theories make vastly different predictions about the role of punishment in altering criminal activity, and life-course criminologists suggest that life events can materially influence subsequent criminal activity. Using arrest histories of a sample of prisoners released from state prisons in 1994 and followed for three years post-release, this Article seeks to address the impact of incarceration on subsequent offending trajectories. Results indicate that a comparison of the counter factual and actual offending patterns suggests that most releasees were either deterred from future offending (40%) or merely incapacitated by their incarceration (56%). Only about 4% had a criminogenic effect. Future theoretical and empirical research directions are outlined.


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