skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 81624 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Governmental Responses to Crime - Legislative Responses to Crime - The Changing Content of Criminal Law
Author(s): A M Heinz
Corporate Author: Northwestern University
Ctr for Urban Affairs & Policy Research
United States of America
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 154
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60201
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 78-NI-AX-0096
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS Publication Sales
Box 6000 Department F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Dataset: DATASET 1
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study analyzes enactments to State and city codes in 10 large American cities from 1948 to 1978, measuring trends in criminalization, severity of penalties, and administrative and judicial discretion.
Abstract: Some jurisdictions at both city and State levels frequently reformed their laws, while others rarely resorted to reform. Legislative attention to crime generally coincided with attention to crime on the local political agenda and with the degree of local power to legislate. Criminalization and the severity of penalties increased significantly at the State level over the study period; constraints on judicial and administrative discretion, such as mandatory sentencing, showed a marked increase in the 1970's. Municipal rulemaking patterns varied widely; examples from selected jurisdictions illustrate these patterns for public order offenses, drug offenses, and gun control. By 1978, city code offenses had been reduced in quantity because of the removal of certain status offenses and greater differentiation in certain categories of offenses, leading to more careful targeting. More sweeping penal reforms tended to follow legislative changes. At the State level, there was a consistent expansion of law, and a move away from the rehabilitative model of sentencing. Tables, graphs, and about 50 references are included. A technical appendix presents a detailed description of procedures used to measure changes in offense meanings.
Index Term(s): Criminal codes; Judicial discretion; Local government; Municipal ordinances; Penalty severity rating; Trend analysis
Note: Governmental Responses to Crime Project
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.