Research / BFI Working PaperFeb 12, 2022

Heterogeneous Impacts of Sentencing Decisions

Andrew Jordan, Ezra Karger, Derek Neal

We examine 70,581 felony court cases filed in Chicago, IL, during the period 1990–2007. We exploit case randomization to assess the impact of judge assignment and sentencing decisions on the arrival of new charges. Our estimates of the impact of incarceration on recidivism show that, in marginal cases, incarceration creates large and lasting reductions in recidivism among first offenders. Yet, among repeat offenders, incarceration sentences for marginal offenders create only modest short-run incapacitation effects and no lasting reductions in the incidence of new felony charges. Our results raise concerns about sentencing reforms, enacted in most states over recent decades, that encourage or mandate incarceration sentences for many offenders with prior criminal records.

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BFI Working Paper Feb 1, 2010

Aiming for Efficiency Rather Than Proficiency

Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Industrial Organization, Higher Education & Workforce Training, Monetary Policy