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Crime and Incarceration: Some Comparative Findings From the 1980s

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: (July 1992) Pages: 392-416
Date Published
35 pages
Texas, California, and U.S. incarceration, crime, and unemployment rates during the 1970's and 1980's were examined to explore the link between incarceration policies and crime rates.
Data on incarceration practices and crime rates were gathered from four cohorts of parolees in Texas and compared to Texas, California, and national experiences. Texas and California responded differently to pressure on the prison system during the 1980's. California initiated an ambitious and expensive prison construction program. Texas, constrained by a State economy in recession, chose to rely more on parole to deal with the resulting pressure on prison capacity. Both differences and similarities in crime rate trends were evident when Texas and California were compared. Violent-crime-rate trends tended to track one another but at different levels. California's rate was higher. Property crimes increased in Texas and decreased in California. This was parallel to findings within Texas. In the case of violent crimes, the variation in State policies made little difference, but contending explanations emerged in regard to property crimes. Incarceration rates and economic conditions as reflected in unemployment patterns appear to be the most promising factors. 4 notes, 9 figures, 1 table, and 39 references

Date Published: January 1, 1992