Study: Democratic Governors Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex
Republicans tend to get more blame than Democrats do for the terrible state of America’s criminal justice system, with its overly punitive “tough-on-crime” policies and enthusiasm for mass incarceration. But new research published in Political Research Quarterly challenges this calculation. In looking at whether Democratic or Republican state leaders drive more carceral policies, Anna Gunderson—an assistant professor of political science at Louisiana State University—found that “Democratic governors who barely win their elections outspend and outincarcerate their Republican counterparts.”
For her research, Gunderson examined three measures of tough-on-crime tactics—prison admission rates, overall incarceration rates, and state corrections budgets—alongside state election returns between 1982 and 2016.
In states and elections where Democratic governors only eked out a win, corrections spending rose by around $15 per capita. Gunderson also found “tentative evid
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