: Almost a third of all prisoners in England and Wales are released early and finish their sentence electronically monitored (EM) under the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme since its introduction in 1999. This makes it the largest EM release policy in the world and its stated aim is to improve the re-integration of inmates into society in order to reduce the very high recidivism rate observed in this population. It is very difficult to causally infer if it is successful in altering criminal behaviour as selection into the scheme is dependent on the outcome of interest: recidivism risk. In this paper I exploit two administrative rules – age and sentence length – which make certain prisoners ineligible and result in discontinuities in treatment to estimate its impact of HDC on recidivism using a regression discontinuity (RD) approach. I have access to detailed data on all prisoners released between 2000 and 2006 and on their past and future criminal history. The results indicate that early EM release reduces the chances re-arrest of ex-prisoners by between 20 and 40 percent within two years suggesting that it is a very cost effective policy to reduce recidivism since time spent on HDC is much cheaper than time spent in jail. The use of two distinct discontinuities for identification also shows that this is not only the result of a local average treatment effect (LATE) and that the policy positively alters the criminal behaviour of heterogeneous populations.
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