Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1871274
 


 



Why State Prisons?


W. David Ball


Santa Clara School of Law

February 2014

Yale Law & Policy Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
There is plenty of conversation about how to reduce state prison populations, but what almost no one talks about is this: states are under no obligation to provide prisons, nor are they obliged to pay for the costs associated with prison sentences. Perhaps this silence comes from an assumption that state governments have always paid for prison, but, as this Article reveals, this conventional wisdom is wrong. In fact, states neither built prisons nor paid for incarceration until the middle of the 19th century. The decisions of local officials drive prison admissions — via arresting, charging, and sentencing —but given the political economy of local decision-making, local preferences are unlikely to result in optimally-sized state prison populations. This Article suggests that since state prison subsidies may not be desirable and are certainly not inevitable, it may be time for states to reconsider paying for prisons.

(Previously Titled "Why Should States Pay for Prisons, When Local Officials Decide who Goes There?")

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: prison, sentencing, corrections, federalism, local government, crime, criminal law

JEL Classification: H1, H2, H3, H4, H7

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: June 27, 2011 ; Last revised: April 15, 2014

Suggested Citation

Ball, W. David, Why State Prisons? (February 2014). Yale Law & Policy Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1871274 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1871274

Contact Information

W. David Ball (Contact Author)
Santa Clara School of Law ( email )
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 590
Downloads: 79
Download Rank: 182,701

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.297 seconds