Predicting Crime through Incarceration: The Impact of Rates of Prison Cycling On Rates of Crime in Communities
Date:  08-21-2014

“Coercive mobility” actually increases crime in certain neighborhoods rather than deters it
Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available the following final technical report (this report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice):

Title:Predicting Crime through Incarceration: The Impact of Rates of Prison Cycling on Rates of Crime in Communities (pdf, 141 pages)

Authors: Todd R. Clear, Natasha A. Frost, Michael Carr, Geert Dhondt, Anthony Braga, Garrett A.R. Warfield

Abstract: This project estimated the impact of “prison cycling” — the flow of inmates into and out of prison — on crime rates in communities, especially focusing on areas with high prison cycling rates in Boston, MA, and Trenton and Newark, NJ. Scholars have theorized that, given the weakened capacity for informal social control in disadvantaged neighborhoods, high levels of prison cycling are likely to further damage community cohesion, leading to increases in crime rates. Incarceration rates are particularly high for minorities in the most disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, especially black males, and as many as one-fifth of adult men are incarcerated on any given day.

The authors found that, even though prison releases have a negligible impact on crime in general, prison reentries sharply increase crime in disadvantaged neighborhoods but slightly decrease crime in neighborhoods that are not disadvantaged. The authors also discuss findings from one site where this pattern was not observed (Newark, NJ) and how prison cycling may not impact crime due to the city’s concentrated disadvantage.