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Crime and Punishment: The Politics of Federal Criminal Justice Sanctions

Nicholson-Crotty, S. and Meier, Kenneth John 2003. Crime and Punishment: The Politics of Federal Criminal Justice Sanctions. Political Research Quarterly 56 (2) , pp. 119-126. 10.1177/106591290305600201

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Abstract

The incarceration rate in federal penitentiaries has tripled in the past twenty-five years, marking an unprecedented incursion by the federal government into what was the near exclusive domain of sub-national jurisdictions. Numerous scholars, particularly outside the field of political science, have hypothesized about the causes of the burgeoning prison population; but few have systematically tested these propositions. Borrowing insights from organizational theory and the literature on bureaucratic politics, this article proposes a frame-work that incorporates the most plausible hypotheses from the literature and empirically models the environmental, structural, and political influences on the implementation of federal criminal justice sanctions. The analysis demonstrates that federal incarceration rates are largely uncorrelated with the national crime rate, but that other variables significantly affect the number of commitments, the average sentence of convicted prisoners, and the number of paroles annually. The model also reveals that the outputs of criminal justice bureau-cracies are extremely autoregressive, with current sanctions determined largely by past agency behavior.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
K Law > KF United States Federal Law
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1065-9129
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:27
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/39225

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