Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic Inequality

36 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2016

See all articles by Magnus Lofstrom

Magnus Lofstrom

Public Policy Institute of California; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Steven Raphael

University of California, Berkeley - The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy

Abstract

Crime rates in the United States have declined to historical lows since the early 1990s. Prison and jail incarceration rates as well as community correctional populations have increased greatly since the mid-1970s. Both of these developments have disproportionately impacted poor and minority communities. In this paper, we document these trends. We then present an assessment of whether the crime declines can be attributed to the massive expansion of the U.S. criminal justice system. We argue that the crime is certainly lower as results of this expansion and the crime rate in the early 1990s was likely a third lower than what they would have been absent changes in sentencing practices in the 1980s.However, there is little evidence of an impact of the further stiffening of sentences during the 1990s, a period when prison and other correctional populations expanded rapidly. Hence, the growth in criminal justice populations since 1990s have exacerbated socioeconomic inequality in the U.S. without generating much benefit in terms of lower crime rates.

Keywords: crime, criminal victimization, inequality, incarceration, prison

JEL Classification: D3, D63, I3

Suggested Citation

Lofstrom, Magnus and Raphael, Steven, Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic Inequality. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9812. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2750295

Magnus Lofstrom (Contact Author)

Public Policy Institute of California ( email )

500 Washington Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
+49 228 3894 303 (Phone)
+49 228 3894 210 (Fax)

Steven Raphael

University of California, Berkeley - The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
28
Abstract Views
300
PlumX Metrics