Does Prison Privatization Distort Justice? Evidence on Time Served and Recidivism

Anita Mukherjee (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Abstract: I contribute new evidence on the impacts of private prison contracting by exploiting the entry and exit of private prisons in Mississippi between 1996 and 2004. I find that private prison inmates serve an additional 4 to 7 percent of their sentences, which equals 60 to 90 days for the average inmate. The mechanism for this delayed release appears linked to the widespread use of conduct violations in private prisons: these inmates are 15 percent more likely to receive one, and receive twice as many. Despite the additional time served, I find no evidence that private prison inmates recidivate less.

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