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Predicting Crime Through Incarceration

Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Abstract: he purpose of this project is to fill in this gap by examining the impact of level of prison cycling—the removal of people for incarceration and their eventual return—on those places, with a specific focus on the relationship between incarceration and crime. The study is rooted in the social science tradition that views crime not only as an individual level phenomenon, but also an ecological one. Shaw and McKay (1942), for example, pointed out that social processes such as mobility can affect a place’s propensity for crime as part of their larger observation that characteristics of communities have effects are separate from the simple aggregate of the characteristics of the individuals who live there. Recent work has shown that contextual poverty, unemployment and demographic characteristics are often correlated with the level of crime (for a review, see Sampson et al. 2002). This study will test the hypothesis that level of prison cycling should be added to the list of ecological-level variables independently associated with crime rates in local areas, and will estimate the size and nature of that effect.