Does prison make criminals better at crime?

A new data study from Ohio University suggests that putting people behind bars for long periods may produce, well, better criminals.  This from a report on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“Spending time in prison leads to increased criminal earnings,” [sociology professor Donald] Hutcherson says. “On average, a person can make roughly $11,000 more [illegally] from spending time in prison versus a person who does not spend time in prison.”

As to the process by which this happens, he says, “You come in [to prison]. You’re 16, 17, 18 years old. You’re looking around and you’re thinking, ‘Listen, I can learn from these seasoned veterans.’ And that’s exactly what you do. … Basically, you are spending a lot of time around other criminals, seasoned veterans who know the lay of the land, and they can teach you the mechanisms — ways to get away with crime.”

So what do you think?  Many incarceration experts ague that prisons can deter crime, or offer rehabilitation.  Is it possible that prisons are also helping to “criminalize” offenders?

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