This paper analyzes the influence that juvenile offenders serving time in the same correctional facility have on each other's subsequent criminal behavior. The analysis is based on data on over 8,000 individuals serving time in 169 juvenile correctional facilities during a two-year period in Florida. These data provide a complete record of past crimes, facility assignments, and arrests and adjudications in the year following release for each individual. To control for the non-random assignment to facilities, we include facility fixed effects, thereby estimating peer effects using only within-facility variation over time. We find strong evidence of peer effects for various categories of theft, burglary, and felony drug and weapon crimes; the influence of peers primarily affects individuals who already have some experience in a particular crime category. We also find evidence that peer effects are stronger in smaller facilities and that the predominant types of peer effects differ in residential versus non-residential facilities. Effects in the latter are consistent with network formation among youth serving time close to home.
Patrick J. Bayer, Randi Pintoff & David Pozen,
Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections,
Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 124, p. 105, 2009; Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 864
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