"Crime and Punishment." In Herbert Jacob and Virginia Grey (eds.) Politics of the
American States. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1997, Chapter
In this chapter I first describe the crime problems facing the states and explore the factors
that differentiate high-crime from low-crime areas. I also describe some of the main
features of state criminal justice systems and how much they cost. Most of the money is
spent by cities. They are responsible for the police, which absorb the lion’s share of the
overall budget for criminal justice. Courts are also a significant expense, and responsibility
for them is shared by municipalities, counties, and the states. The second-largest slice of
the criminal justice budget is devoted to prisons and mails, and the former are the
responsibility of state governments. The focus in most of this chapter is on state policies
and practices with regard to filling those prisons and jails – the kinds of sentences outlines
in the states’ criminal codes, the number of prisoners they hold in custody, the
construction and operation of prisons, and how the state have responded to rising crime
rates since the 1960s. In the final section of this chapter I examine how these policies have
in turn created new problems for states and their tax-payers, including massive
overcrowding and pressure to build many new prisons.
Crime Trends