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Title:The Politics of Confinement: Prison Population and Capacity Change in Post-War California
Author(s):Rhodes, Susan Lynne
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Political Science, General
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:This thesis deals with the factors affecting prison population and capacity in the California state correctional system from 1946 through 1980. It develops and estimates a structural equation model describing the behavior of prison admissions, releases and rated capacity over time. It also uses qualitative data obtained through semi-structured interviews with corrections officials, legislative staff members, lobbyists and other individuals concerned with this policy area in order to develop a more concrete picture of the processes which have shaped the variables of interest.
The study found that the population of young males in the state and public support for capital punishment, as measured in national opinion surveys, were positively associated with the total number of new prison admissions from the courts in each year. The percentage of the vote for governor cast for the Republican party candidate, which the thesis argues serves as an indicator of public support for fiscal conservatism, was found to be negatively related to new admissions. The results also indicated that yearly totals for parole releases were affected positively by admissions three years ago and negatively by public approval of capital punishment. The rated capacity of the prison system as reported in state budget documents was positively associated with last year's reported capacity and with admissions to the prison system. Parole releases affected capacity negatively. All these relationships were highly statistically significant.
In addition, several explicit policy shifts adopted by state officials were included in the model and found to significantly alter the impacts of the exogenous factors on the endogenous variables. Many complex interconnections between current admissions, releases and capacity were also identified. Perhaps the most important of these was a negative effect on paroles produced by capacity during the last eleven years included in the analysis. From 1970 through 1980 parole releases were found to decrease significantly when capacity increased and to go up when capacity went down, suggesting that under some circumstances prison population may adjust to fit available bedspace, but under other conditions it will not.
Issue Date:1987
Description:259 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8711861
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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