Sociology Publications and Other Works


The Origins of Criminal Sentencing Reforms

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This paper explores the explanatory utility of two broad perspectives on correctional reform, one informed by materialism and the other by a functionalist interpretation of state policy. Using state-level demographic, economic and political data, we examine some structural antecedents of criminal sentecing reform in the United States during the period 1971-1982. Using stepwise regression procedures, variables derived from the materialist perspective prove superior to variables derived from the functionalist perspective as predictors of the extensiveness of changes in criminal sentencing codes. While the findings are encouraging, they reinforce the need for a more complex model of change in law.

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