Serving time or serving the community? Exploiting a policy reform to assess the causal effects of community service on income, social benefit dependency and recidivism
There is a widespread belief among criminologists, judges and the like that criminals are better off serving non-custodial sentences instead of going to prison. However, empirical evidence of the effects of community service is scarce. This paper exploits a policy reform that implemented the use of community service as punishment among specific groups of criminals in order to assess the causal effect of community service on post-sentence income, dependency on social benefits, and crime.