Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 109–140

Prison population growth and crime reduction

  • Thomas B. Marvell
  • Carlisle E. MoodyJr.
Article

Abstract

The impact of state prison populations on crime is typically estimated by applying the lambda, the individual crime rate, of prisoners or arrestees. We outline the problems with this approach, attempt to reanalyze the widely divergent lambdas derived in past research, and make adjustments necessary to use lambdas for estimating the incapacitation impact. The result is an uncertain estimate of 16 to 25 index crimes averted per year per each additional prisoner. We argue that regression analysis can provide a better estimate of the impact of prison population growth. Applying the Granger test to pooled state data over 19 years, we found that prison population growth leads to lower crime rates but that crime rate changes have little or no short-term impact on prison population growth. Next we regressed crime rates on prison population and conclude that, on average, at least 17 index crimes are averted per additional prisoner. The impact is limited mainly to property crime.

Key words

prison population lambda incapacitation impact crime control causality tests 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bastian, L. D. (1992).Criminal Victimizations, 1991, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, A. J. (1989).Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  3. Berk, R. A., Messinger, S. L., Rauma, D., and Berecochea, J. E. (1983). Prisons as self-regulating systems: A comparison of historical patterns in California for male and female offenders.Law Soc. Rev. 17: 547–586.Google Scholar
  4. Blumstein, A., and Cohen, J. (1973). A theory of the stability of punishment.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 64: 198–207.Google Scholar
  5. Blumstein, A., and Cohen, J. (1979). Estimation of individual crime rates from arrest records.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 70: 561–585.Google Scholar
  6. Blumstein, A., and Cohen, J. (1987). Characterizing criminal careers.Science 237: 985–991.Google Scholar
  7. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Nagin, D. (eds.) (1978).Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on the Crime Rates, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  8. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., and Visher, C. A. (eds.) (1986).Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals,ℍ Vol I, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  9. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Visher, C. A. (1988). Linking the crime and arrest process to measure individual crime rates: Variations in individual arrest risk per crime (unpublished paper).Google Scholar
  10. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Rosenfeld, R. (1991). Trend and deviation in crime rates: A comparison of UCR and NCS data for burglary and robbery.Criminology 29: 237–263.Google Scholar
  11. Bowker, L. H. (1981). Crime and the use of prisons in the United States: A time series analysis.Crime Delinq. 27: 206–212.Google Scholar
  12. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1986).State and Federal Prisoners 1925–85, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  13. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1991).Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1989, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  14. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992a).Correctional Populations in the United States, 1990, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  15. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992b).National Corrections Reporting Program, 1986, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  16. Campbell, D. T., and Stanley, J. C. (1966).Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Chaiken, J. M., and Chaiken, M. (1982).Varieties of Criminal Behavior, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  18. Chamlin, M. B., and Kennedy, M. B. (1991). The impact of the Wilson administration on economic crime rates.J. Quant. Criminol. 7: 357–372.Google Scholar
  19. Chappell, C. L., and Sykes, G. (1991). Prison commitments, crime, and unemployment: A theoretical and empirical specification for the United States, 1933–1985.J. Quant. Criminol. 7: 155–200.Google Scholar
  20. Cohen, J. (1983). Incapacitation as a strategy for crime control: Possibilities and pitfalls. In Tonry, M., and Morris, N. (eds.),Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, Vol 5, University Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  21. Cohen, J. (1986). Research on criminal careers: Individual frequency rates and offense seriousness. In Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., and Visher, C. A. (eds.),Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals,ℍ Vol. I, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  22. Cohen, J., and Canela-Cacho, J. (1993).Incarceration and Violent Crime: 1965–1988, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Pittsburgh, PA.Google Scholar
  23. Cook, P. (1982). Research in criminal deterrence: Laying the groundwork for the second decade. In Tonry, M., and Morris, N. (eds.),Crime and Justice, an Annual Review of Research, Vol. 2, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  24. Devine, J. A., Sheley, J. F., and Smith, M. D. (1988). Macroeconomic and social-control policy influences on crime rate changes, 1948–1985.Am. Sociol. Rev. 51: 407–421.Google Scholar
  25. Dickey, D. A. and Fuller, W. A. (1979). Distribution of the estimators for autoregressive time-series with a unit root.J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 74: 427–431.Google Scholar
  26. Ekland-Olson, S., Kelly, W. R., and Eisenberg, M. (1992). Crime and incarceration: Some comparative findings from the 1980s.Crime Delinq. 38: 392–416.Google Scholar
  27. Engle, R. F., and Granger, C. W. J. (1987). Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing.Econometrica 55: 251–276.Google Scholar
  28. English, K., and Mande, M. J. (1992).Measuring Crime Rates of Prisoners, Colorado Department of Public Safety, Denver.Google Scholar
  29. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1972–1992).Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  30. Feeley, M. M., and Simon, J. (1992). The new penology: Notes on the emerging strategy of corrections and its implications.Criminology 30: 449–474.Google Scholar
  31. Fisher, F. M., and Nagin, D. (1978). On the feasibility of identifying the crime function in a simultaneous model of crime rates and sanction levels. In Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Nagin, D. (eds.),Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  32. Gibbs, J. P., and Firebaugh, G. (1990). The artifact issue in deterrence research.Criminology 28: 347–367.Google Scholar
  33. Gilliard, D. K. (1993).Prisoners in 1992., U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  34. Gove, W. R., Hughes, M., and Geerken, M. (1985). Are uniform crime reports a valid indicator of index crimes? An affirmative answer with minor qualifications.Criminology 23: 451–501.Google Scholar
  35. Granger, C. W. J. (1969). Investigating causal relations by econometric models and cross-spectral methods.Econometrica 37: 424–438.Google Scholar
  36. Granger, C. W. J. (1988). Some recent developments in a concept of causality.J. Econometrics 39: 199–211.Google Scholar
  37. Granger, C. W. J., and Newbold, P. (1974). Spurious regressions in econometrics.J. Econometrics 26: 1045–1066.Google Scholar
  38. Greenberg, D. F. (1975). The incapacitative effects of imprisonment: Some estimates.Law Soc. Rev. 9: 541–580.Google Scholar
  39. Greenberg, D. F. (1977). The dynamics of oscillatory punishment processes.J. Crim. Law Criminal. 68: 643–651.Google Scholar
  40. Greenberg, D. F. (1990). The cost-benefit analysis of imprisonment.Soc. Just. 17: 49–75.Google Scholar
  41. Greenwood, P. W. (1983). Controlling the crime rate through imprisonment. In Wilson, J. (ed.),Crime and Public Policy, ICS Press, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  42. Hindelang, M. J., Dunn, C. S., Sutton, L. P., and Aumick, A. L. (1973).Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1973, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  43. Horney, J., and Marshall, I. H. (1991). Measuring lambda through self reports.Criminology 29: 471–495.Google Scholar
  44. Horney, J., and Marshall, I. H. (1992). An experimental comparison of two self-reported methods for measuring lambda.J. Res. Crime Delinq. 29: 102–121.Google Scholar
  45. Hsiao, C. (1986).Analysis of Penal Data. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  46. Langan, P. A. (1991). America's soaring prison population.Science 251: 1568–1573.Google Scholar
  47. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (1975).Prisoners in State and Federal Institutions on December 31, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, U.S. Goverment Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  48. Madalla, G. S. (1988).Introduction to Economics, Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Markides, K., and Tracy, G. (1976). The effect of the age structure of a stationary population on crime rates.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 67: 351–355.Google Scholar
  50. Marvell, T. B., and Moody, C. E. (1991). Age structure and crime rates: The conflicting evidence.J. Quant. Criminol. 7: 237–273.Google Scholar
  51. Menard, S. (1992). Residual gains, reliability, and the UCR-NCS relationship: A comment on Blumstein, Cohen, and Rosenfeld.Criminology 30: 105.Google Scholar
  52. McGuire, W. J., and Sheehan, R. G. (1983). Relationships between crime rates and incarceration rates: Further analysis.J. Res. Crime Delinq. 20: 73–85.Google Scholar
  53. Miranne, A. C., and Geerken, M. R. (1991). The New Orleans inmate survey: A test of Greenwood's predictive scale.Criminology 29: 497–518.Google Scholar
  54. Mundlak, Y. (1978). On pooling of time series and cross section data.Econometrica 46: 69- 86.Google Scholar
  55. Nagel, W. G. (1977). On behalf of a moratorium on prison construction.Crime Delinq. 23: 154–172.Google Scholar
  56. Nagin, D. (1978). General deterrence: A review of the empirical evidence. In Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Nagin, D. (eds.),Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  57. Petersilia, J., Greenwood, P. W., and Lavin, M. (1977).Criminal Careers of Habitual Felons, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  58. Peterson, M. A., and Braiker, H. B. (1980).Doing Crime: A Survey of California Prison Inmates, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  59. Pindyck, R. S., and Rubinfeld, D. L., (1991).Econometric Models and Economic Forecasts, McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  60. Reiss, A. J. (1988). Co-offending influences on criminal careers. In Tonry, M., and Morris, N. (eds.),Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, Vol. 10, University Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  61. Reiss, A. J., and Farrington, D. P. (1991). Advancing knowledge about co-offending: Results from a prospective longitudinal survey of London males.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 82: 360- 395.Google Scholar
  62. Reiss, A. J., and Roth, J. A. (eds.) (1993).Understanding and Preventing Violence, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  63. Sampson, R. (1986). Crime in cities: The effects of formal and informal social control. In Reiss, A. J., and Tonry, M. (eds.),Communities and Crime, University Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  64. Sherman, L. W., and Glick, B. D. (1984).The Quality of Police Arrest Statistics, Police Foundation, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  65. Shinnar, S., and Shinnar, R. (1975). The effect of the criminal justice system on the control of crime: A quantitative approach.Law Soc. Rev. 9: 581–611.Google Scholar
  66. Shover, N. (1991). Burglary. In Tonry, M., and Morris, N. (eds.),Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, Vol. 14, University Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  67. Sims, C. A. (1980). Macroeconomics and reality.Econometrica 48: 1–48.Google Scholar
  68. Solari, R. (1992).National Judicial Reporting Program, 1988, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  69. Spelman, W. (1994),Criminal Incapacitation. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  70. Steffenmeier, D., and Harer, M. D. (1993). Bulging prisons, and aging U.S. population, and the nation's violent crime rate.Fed. Probat. 57 (June); 3–10.Google Scholar
  71. Sykes, G. W., Vito, G. F., and McElrath, K. (1987). Jail populations and crime rates: An exploratory analysis.J. Polit. Sci. Admin. 15: 72–77.Google Scholar
  72. Visher, C. A. (1986). The Rand inmate survey: A reanalysis. In Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., and Visher, C. A. (eds.),Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals,ℍ Vol. II, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  73. Weis, J. G. (1986). Issues in the measurement of criminal careers. In Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., and Visher, C. A. (eds.),Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals,ℍ Vol. II, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  74. Wolpin, K. I. (1980). A time series-cross section analysis of international variation in crime punishment.Rev. Econ. Stat. 62: 417–423.Google Scholar
  75. Zedlewski, E. W. (1987).Making Confinement Decisions, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  76. Zedlewski, E. W. (1989). New mathematics of imprisonment: A reply to Zimring and Hawkins.Crime Deling. 35: 169–173.Google Scholar
  77. Zimring, F. E., and Hawkins, G. (1988). The new mathematics of imprisonment.Crime Delinq. 34: 425–436.Google Scholar
  78. Zimring, F. E., and Hawkins, G. (1991).The Scale of Imprisonment, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas B. Marvell
    • 1
  • Carlisle E. MoodyJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Justec ResearchWilliamsburg
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsCollege of William and MaryWilliamsburg

Personalised recommendations