When teenagers are put in prison, two effects follow:
- They are less likely to finish high school.
- They are more likely to return to incarceration as an adult - recidivism is high.
So a community that is tough on its teenagers and is quick to incarcerate is likely to be a community where fewer high school students graduate and more adults are in prison. This is a dual drag on their economy.
Alternatives to incarceration for offenses by teenagers reduce the effects described above. These alternatives include
- Electronic monitoring.
- Well-enforced curfews. (As in Illinois.)
The authors of the above research, Anna Aizer and Joseph Doyle, Jr., do not place a value on the deterrent effect of incarceration, because recent evidence suggests that this effect is weak.
The research is in NBER Working Paper #19102, available from www.nber.org/papers.