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The impact of recidivism and capacity on prison populations

Prison crowding currently poses a serious problem for society. This problem is attributable to a failure to anticipate and plan for the increased numbers of individuals sentenced to prison over the last decade. Crowded prisons have forced many jurisdictions to release prisoners earlier than would have been the case with unlimited prison capacity and to initiate expensive prison construction programs. In this paper, we develop a prison population projection model that extends previous work by considering the impact of limited prison capacity on time served, releases, and future admissions. The model was demonstrated for the State of North Carolina. Results suggest the tradeoffs that exist between prison capacity and punitiveness as measured by time served in prison.


Lattimore, P., & Baker, JR. (1992). The impact of recidivism and capacity on prison populations. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 8(2), 189-215. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01066744

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