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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 60; doi:10.3390/socsci6020060

The Strategies, Complexities, and Realities of Zero Prison Population Growth

Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, 37235 TN, USA
Academic Editor: Bryan L. Sykes
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 June 2017 / Published: 8 June 2017
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Abstract

Although there is general consensus that growth in the prison population should be reversed, there is little agreement on how to achieve this goal. In this paper, I apply classic demographic methods to answer questions that assess the strategies, complexities, and realities of routes to zero and negative prison population growth. Modified admissions policies have had the greatest impact on halting growth, whereas decreasing the length of sentences has had only a modest, short-term influence on the prison population size. As state and federal policy-makers consider reducing sentences for selective classes of nonviolent offenders, it is important that they have a holistic understanding of the implications of such policies. Traditionally, this type of modification has been coupled with more punitive policies for violent offenders, a pattern that reinforces the appearance of having “tough on crime” policies. Model estimates show that such strategies countervail the overall goal of decreasing the size of the prison population. Regardless of underlying reasons to halt growth of the prison populations, integration of the formal demography enable a means to assess the short- and long-term consequences of current and future policy. View Full-Text
Keywords: prison projections; population dynamics; sentencing; prison alternatives prison projections; population dynamics; sentencing; prison alternatives
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Patterson, E.J. The Strategies, Complexities, and Realities of Zero Prison Population Growth. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 60.

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