Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Economics BA


Economic and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Mehdi Barati, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bridget Hayden, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sabine Heinhorst, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Economic and Workforce Development


The state of Mississippi’s historically high incarceration rate peaked in the year 2013, when it was the second highest nationwide. To combat this problem, House Bill 585 was passed into law in 2014. The law consisted of multiple reforms, which were part of an effort to toughen sentencing for violent offenders and reduce severity of punishment for non-violent criminals, with the aim of reducing incarceration and refocusing prison space for violent crimes. I employed difference in differences and synthetic control methododologies to examine the effects of House Bill 585 on crime and imprisonment rates. My results revealed that House Bill 585 caused an initial sharp decline in imprisonment rate, but the effect wore off as time progressed. The impact of House Bill 585 on violent crime was insignificant at all levels, and the law led to an increase in property crime rate, which also became less significant over time.

Keywords: Mississippi, crime, incarceration , House Bill 585