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Corrections

Santa Clara Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Defunding State Prisons, W. David Ball Jan 2013

Defunding State Prisons, W. David Ball

Faculty Publications

Local agencies drive criminal justice policy, but states pick up the tab for policy choices that result in state imprisonment. This distorts local policies and may actually contribute to increased state prison populations, since prison is effectively “free” to the local decisionmakers who send inmates there. This Article looks directly at the source of the “correctional free lunch” problem and proposes to end state funding for prisons. States would, instead, reallocate money spent on prisons to localities to use as they see fit — on enforcement, treatment, or even per-capita prison usage. This would allow localities to retain their decision-making …


Why Should States Pay For Prisons, When Local Officials Decide Who Goes There?, W. David Ball Jun 2011

Why Should States Pay For Prisons, When Local Officials Decide Who Goes There?, W. David Ball

Faculty Publications

In the United States, states typically pay for prisons, even though the decisions that lead to prison admissions — arresting, charging, and sentencing — are made by local officials. The practice of state subsidies is relatively recent: there were no state prisons in the early part of the country’s history, and even as state institutions began to be developed, they largely supported themselves financially, rendering the notion of subsidies moot. Given the political economy of local decision-making, local preferences are unlikely to result in optimally-sized state prison populations. This Article suggests that since state prison subsidies may not be desirable …