Punitivity in the United States

Theodore N. Ferdinand, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale

Punitivity is best measured by looking at the tendency to imprison those who are eligible- felons. A ratio will be computed for two groups of felons - those who have been imprisoned for their crime, and those who have been sentenced to community programs (probation, drug courts,treatment programs). Since both groups reflect different slices of the felon population - only those who have been convicted of murder, armed robbery, burglary, or drug offenses in state courts will be included in each group. Four states - Texas, California, Minnesota, and Massachusetts - will be examined,and each type of felon will be compared with the other three types in each state. Data on gender, total offending, and the severity of the instant offense will be used insofar as possible. This paper will present evidence drawn fromthe most comprehensive, recent edition of Maguire & Pastore's SOURCEBOOK.

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Updated 05/20/2006