Conservative State Building and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968

Jack Epstein, Ohio University

ABSTRACT
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 represented a wider political reaction against Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs and the "judicial activism" of the Warren Court. The authors of the Safe Streets Act hoped it would reverse the expansion of federal governmental capacities previously mobilized for the protection of the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. They hoped to restore local control over the apparatus of the various states' incarceration systems. The subsequent implementation of the Act, however, facilitated the growth of federal state capacities, particularly Title III's loose requirements for federal eavesdropping. Recent hisoriography on American state-building argues that it has continued despite the primacy of politically conservative rehetoric and cultural values in the last thirty years. My paper will connect to this literature, using the unintended consequences of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 as a case study.

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Updated 05/20/2006