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Felony Status, Participation, and Political Reintegration: Results from a field experiment

November 22, 2018 @ 12:00 am

Felony Status, Participation, and Political Reintegration: Results from a field experiment

DateNovember 21, 2013

Time4:00am to 5:30am

Location
4357 Bunche Hall

Contact

How does American’s high rate of incarceration shape political participation? Few studies have examined the direct effects of incarceration on patterns of political engagement. Answering this question is particularly relevant for the 93% of formerly incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote. Drawing on new administrative data from Connecticut, we show that felons vote at much lower rates than comparable non-felons prior to being incarcerated. From this low baseline, incarceration substantially reduces post-release registration rates and has small and ambiguous effects on post-release voting. Building on these observational findings, we present evidence from a field experiment showing that a simple informational outreach campaign to released felons can recover a large proportion of the reduction in participation observed following incarceration. The treatment effect estimates imply that efforts to reintegrate released felons into the political process can substantially reduce the participatory consequences of incarceration.

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