The Effect of Removing Sentencing Credits on Inmate Misbehavior

Benjamin Steiner, Calli M. Cain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the effect of prison officials’ decisions to remove good time credits in response to prison rule violations on subsequent inmate misbehavior. Methods: Data pertaining to all inmates admitted to prison in a Midwestern state during 2009 who committed a rule violation were examined using two different methods, a multi-level analysis of a longitudinal person-period dataset and a comparison of the prison misconduct rates for inmates who lost good time during their first year of confinement to those for a matched control group of inmates who did not lose good time. Results: The multi-level longitudinal analysis revealed that inmates who lost good time in response to a prison rule violation were typically less likely to commit misconduct in the periods after they lost good time relative to periods before inmates lost good time, but the size of the observed effects were small. For the most part, the analyses of the matched sample of inmates who lost good time during their first year of confinement versus those inmates who did not lose good time revealed that losing good time did not affect inmates’ rates of subsequent misconduct. Conclusions: Findings suggest that good time laws have little to no specific deterrent effects on inmate misbehavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-108
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019



  • Deterrence
  • Good time
  • Inmate
  • Prison misconduct
  • Sentencing credits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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