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Aurélie Ouss will be presenting in person/via Zoom.

Aurélie Ouss is Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.


People who have been in prison tend to fare poorly on many dimensions of socio-economic well-being—such as labor market outcomes or future incarceration. Past research has focused on the role of incarceration in driving these “collateral consequences,” but more recently researchers have turned their attention to other aspects of justice-involvement, such as the criminal record. In this paper, we use separate sources of variation in conviction (quasi-random assignment of cases to judges) and incarceration (discontinuities in sentencing guidelines) in the same institutional setting and time period, to study the relative contributions of these channels. Our main findings are that while conviction increases the likelihood of receiving new felony charges in the future, this doesn’t appear to be due to incarceration. Incarceration reduces the likelihood of receiving new charges in the short run—likely due to incapacitation—but has no detectable effect on criminal justice or labor market outcomes in the long run. Our results suggest that reducing the scale of incarceration may not have large effects on future outcomes without simultaneously addressing the adverse impacts of a felony conviction.

Joint with John Eric Humphries, Kamelia Stavreva, Megan Stevenson, and Winnie van Dijk.