Award Abstract #2029890

RAPID: Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Crime and Corrections Populations

NSF Directorate:
SBE - Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
NSF Division:

Division of Social and Economic Sciences

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Program Manager:

Reginald Sheehan

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Daniel S Nagin [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Amelia M Haviland (Co-Principal Investigator)


Carnegie-Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue

NSF Program:
Law & Science
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Anecdotal news accounts make clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is having profound impacts on crime and on jail and prison populations in the United States. The short-term reductions in most crimes are consistent with various opportunity-based theories of crime with fewer people on the streets and visiting places like bars. The reports of increased domestic violence align with opportunity-based theories and in addition strain-based theories. Over the longer term, however, the reported crime reduction trends may reverse themselves as people become more economically impacted. Impacts of restricted admissions and accelerated releases from local jails and prisons on crime and on infection rates, within these facilities during this pandemic, are also unknown and of policy interest.

Analyses will be conducted at the level of county and city for crime and jail population impacts and at the level of the state for prison population impacts. To estimate these effects we aim to do difference-in-difference type analyses. The main objectives of this project are to provide a rapid analysis of these impacts on crime and corrections populations to be completed prior to a possible future resurgence of the pandemic, and to share with policymakers rigorous analyses that will assist in informing their decisions in dealing with the crisis.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.