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Corrections

2011

Santa Clara Law

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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 …