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13 J. Experimental Criminology 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/jexpcrm13 and id is 1 raw text is: J Exp Criminol (2017) 13:1-27                                              crossMark
DOI 10.1007/s11292-017-9282-6
The effectiveness of prison for reducing drug offender
recidivism: a regression discontinuity analysis
Ojmarrh Mitchell'     - Joshua C. Cochran2,
Daniel P. Mears3 - William D. Bales3
Published online: 8 February 2017
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017
Objectives An enduring legacy of the 1980s war on drugs is the increased use of
imprisonment for drug offenders. Advocates anticipated, in part, that prison is more
effective than community sanctions in reducing recidivism. Despite the contribution of
drug offender incarceration to prison growth nationally, and debates about whether this
approach should be curtailed, only limited rigorous research exists that evaluates the
effect of imprisonment on drug offender recidivism. To address this gap, this paper uses
sentencing and recidivism data from a cohort of individuals convicted of felony drug
offenses in Florida to examine the effect of imprisonment-as compared to community
sanctions-on recidivism.
Methods Regression discontinuity analyses are used. These minimize potential selec-
tion bias by exogenously assigning cases to conditions based on a rating variable and a
cut-off score.
Results Results indicate that prison has no effect on drug offenders' rates of reconvic-
tion. This finding holds across a range of offender subgroups (racial and ethnic, gender,
age, and prior criminal justice system involvement).
W Ojmarrh Mitchell
Joshua C. Cochran
Daniel P. Mears
Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA
2  University of Cincinnati's School of Criminal Justice, P.O. Box 210389, Dyer Hall, Cincinnati,
OH 45221, USA
3  Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 112 South Copeland
Street, Eppes Hall, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1273, USA

t_ Springer

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