Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


This paper examines the relationship between different social factors, Tough on Crime Legislation and prison population rates in order to determine what factors affect prison population rates. The analysis of prison population rate at the state level found that all forms of tough on crime legislation in the purview of this study with the exception of Three Strikes You’re Out laws increased the prison population rate. In addition this analysis used private prison population rate as a new measure of Tough on Crime legislation, finding increased private population rate relates to an increase in prison population rate. Social conditions within each state were also found to contribute to the prison population rate within each state, with increased inequality and public conservatism being related to increases in prison population rate, while increased education was related to a drop in prison population rate. Overall this study falls into the niche of previous studies, which found that prison population rate was effected at the state level by legislation and social factors.

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Criminology Commons