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Recidivism and Social Interactions

Faced with overcrowded prisons, the courts have been increasingly passing probation sentences for adults convicted of felony crimes. Using a national sample, this paper identifies the risk factors for recidivism among Female, Male, Black, White and Hispanic felony probationers. Individual hazard function is assumed to depend on individual and neighborhood characteristics as well as social interactions among probationers. In selecting the covariates from a set of potential candidates, Bayesian model averaging is used both to account for model uncertainty and the subsequent inference. The results point to social interactions as one of the most significant factors aecting recidivism among all gender, ethnicity and race groups. When a frailty parameter is introduced into the model to account for the possibility of unobserved risk factors shared by probationers within neighborhoods, the empirical results remain robust indicating negligible unobserved neighborhood-level heterogeneity.