BISG Lunch with Professor Jim Greiner: Credible Measurements of the Socioeconomic Costs of Incarceration


Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Taubman Building - T-520 NYE A

The United States incarcerates a higher fraction of its population than any other country in the world. Recent trends, including the election of “progressive prosecutors” to a rhetoric of opposition to “mass incarceration,” suggest momentum to reduce the size and alter the composition of our incarcerated population. Is this trend desirable? And if it is, can it be sustained against the likely return of a “tough on crime” political rhetoric? A partial answer to both questions lies in producing credible evidence of the comparative costs and benefits of incarceration versus alternatives, such as community supervision. This talk will discuss, and seek feedback on, a series of randomized field experiments designed to produce such evidence, highlighting the behavioral features include in the programs to which incarceration will be compared.

Jim Greiner is the Honorable S. William Green Professor of Public Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches courses on civil procedure, expert witnesses, and voting regulation. He is the founder and Faculty Director of the Access to Justice Lab, which implements randomized field experiments to find out what works for individuals and families who cannot afford to hire lawyers in both the criminal and the civil justice systems. Before coming to HLS in 2007, Jim practiced law for six years (three for the U.S. Department of Justice, three for Jenner & Block, LLC), followed by a Ph.D. in statistics at Harvard University. His work has been published in a variety of venues including the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series B), the Annals of Applied Statistics, and Jurimetrics.


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