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The Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) at the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Innovations for Poverty Action are pleased to host this series focusing on violence and crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. This monthly series aims to shed light on novel innovative research on violence and crime in the LAC region and its policy implications.

When it comes to combating crime and homicide in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) —home to 41 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world—policymakers have few tested tools at their disposal. Although evidence is scarce, recent efforts to produce rigorous research is helping to broaden our understanding of what works in reducing violence and crime in the region.

This series is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. Each seminar will be presented in English with Spanish simultaneous translation.

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Overcrowded prisons are a common problem in Latin America, with policymakers hesitant to improve conditions and risk being perceived as “soft on crime.” While poor prison conditions could, in theory, serve as a deterrent and reduce recidivism, they could also facilitate unsupervised interactions between inmates that might increase their criminal skills and networks.

In this webinar, Santiago Tobon (Universidad EAFIT) presented novel evidence on the relationship between prison conditions and recidivism from a prison construction program in Colombia that allowed many inmates to move into less crowded facilities with better services.

Juanita Duran (Justice and Criminal Policy Laboratory) commented on the policy implications of this research. A 10-minute Q&A followed the presentation.


Thursday, September 14, 2023
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Prison Overcrowding and Recidivism: Evidence from Colombia
Santiago Tobon (Speaker), Professor of Economics at Universidad EAFIT in Medellín, Colombia
Juanita Duran (Policy Discussant), Founding partner and researcher at the Justice and Criminal Policy Laboratory in Colombia
Ana Serrano (Moderator), Associate Director, Policy and Development, at IPA Colombia