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NCJ Number: 98939 Find in a Library
Title: Etiology of Prison Populations - Implications for Prison Population Projection Methodology
Corporate Author: Prison Overcrowding Project
United States of America
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 29
Sponsoring Agency: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
New York, NY 10177
National Institute of Corrections
Washington, DC 20534
Prison Overcrowding Project
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper describes two theories of prison population etiology and the methods of prison population projection derived from these etiologies.
Abstract: One etiological theory attributes prison population patterns to demographic factors (e.g., age, racial, and sex distributions as well as migration patterns) and economic factors, especially the unemployment rate. Prison population projections based on this etiology use mathematical equations to link demographic and economic changes with prison population changes. The advantages of this projection method are the reliability and accessibility of demographic data, the relative simplicity of the analysis, and the acceptance of this method among corrections administrators and legislators. The weaknesses of this method are the unreliability of economic data and its failure to consider factors within the criminal justice system. Another etiological theory of prison population patterns focuses on criminal justice system policy and practice as major factors influencing prison populations. Three features characterize the method of prison population prediction derived from this etiology: (1) projections depend on policy directions, (2) multiple projections are developed for various eventualities, and (3) projections are for the short term. The advantage of this method is its attention to the impact of policy decisions; its disadvantage is the difficulty of accurately assessing policy impacts and the cost of data collection and analysis. A draft working paper for the Prison Overcrowding Project to help guide policy groups in planning for policy implementation is included.
Index Term(s): Estimating methods; Prison overcrowding; Prison population prediction
Note: Working Paper number 1.
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