The Effect of Mass Incarceration on Criminality in Colombia
This study surveyed the literature on the expected and unexpected effects of incarceration before (deterrence), during (incapacitation), and after (after-effects) prison confinement occurs, through a selective search that favored the analysis of studies with an empirical focus in the national and comparative literature. Then, based on data provided by the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC by its acronym in Spanish) and the National Police, the research evaluated the effect that mass incarceration for homicides, kidnappings, theft, and personal injuries had on Colombian criminality between 1994 and 2018 (a time in which the inmate population increased fourfold). The regression results suggested that incarceration decreased the number of homicides and kidnappings but increased theft and personal injuries. At the end, the article presents the theoretical developments that could explain those statistical results and makes recommendations for the strategic use of imprisonment and its deterrent potential in Colombia.
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