Lars Højsgaard Andersen: Distance from Home and the Effects of Visitation during Imprisonment on Offenders and their Families

Date and Location

Date: 8/10
Time: 14:00 - 15:00
Location: Frederiksholms Kanal 30, Fæstningens Materialgård 1220 København K

Distance from Home and the Effects of Visitation during Imprisonment on Offenders and their Families

 

Lars Højsgaard Andersen, Maria Fitzpatrick, and Christopher Wildeman

Abstract

Tens of millions of people are forcible separated by penal systems throughout the world. This consequence of incarceration has detrimental effects on men, women, and children that may at least partially offset the savings incarceration yields in crime reduction. One widely-touted method for decreasing these consequences is promoting visitation. But a lack of causal research designs leaves us not knowing whether effects of visitation are positive, null, or even negative. We fill this lack by combining Danish registry data with information on all Danish inmates, including GPS coordinates of their residence and the prison they are assigned to, and information on any visitation they experience. As causal research design, we rely on prison occupancy rates to estimate the effect of distance from home on visitation, and then measure the effects of visitation on men, women, and children. Whereas distance from home has a strong impact on visitation, this effect does not translate into substantial effects for men, women, and children. Because re-socializing initiatives play a key role during incarceration in Denmark, we attribute these findings to the fact that visitation—when measured in time units—offers only a fraction of the (prosocial) influences that prisoners experience.