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Law Enforcement and Corrections

Law

Faculty Scholarship

2011

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An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2011

An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Previous research suggests that mass incarceration in the United States may have contributed to lower rates of violent crime since the 1990s but, surprisingly, finds no evidence of an effect of imprisonment on violent crime prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt has called “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to the puzzle: the error in all prior studies is that they focus exclusively on rates of imprisonment, rather than using a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel-data regressions over the 68-year period from 1934 to 2001 and controlling for …