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Budgets, Institutions, and Change: Criminal Justice Policy in America

Greg A. Caldeira and Andrew T. Cowart
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1980), pp. 413-438
DOI: 10.2307/2110826
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110826
Page Count: 26
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Budgets, Institutions, and Change: Criminal Justice Policy in America
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Abstract

This paper assesses the budgetary responsiveness of American governmental and political institutions to the growth of crime over the last four decades. Several linear decision models are developed which posit that changes in budgetary requests and appropriations for seven criminal justice agencies are functions of changes in the level of criminal activity and of partisan control of the presidency. Tests of these decision models confirm a substantial degree of budgetary responsiveness to growth in the observed crime rate. A significant degree of that responsiveness occurs at the request-formulation stage. While in the short run Congress has actually treated the proposed budgets of the more responsive agencies more severely, it has nonetheless allowed appropriations for criminal justice agencies to grow over the long run in a pattern quite consistent with changes in the crime rate. Virtually all of that responsiveness has occurred, however, under Republican presidents. The statistical performance of the models is quite good--with, typically, over half of the variance accounted for, statistically significant longitudinal regression coefficients, and trivial levels of serial correlation.

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