Preventing crime through selective incapacitation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Making the length of a prison sentence conditional upon an individual’s offence history is shown to be a powerful way of preventing crime. Under a law adopted in the Netherlands in 2001, prolific offenders could be sentenced to a prison term that was approximately 10 times longer than usual. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in application of the law across 31 cities to identify the effect on crime. We find the sentence enhancements to have reduced the rate of theft by 25%. The size of the crime-reducing effect is found to be subject to diminishing returns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-284
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number567
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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