Panel Paper: Political Party Dominance in State Legislatures and Its Effect on Incarceration Rates

Friday, March 9, 2018
Room 24 (Burkle Family Building at Claremont Graduate University)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Javier Rodriguez, Rixin Wen and Ynez D. Canela, Claremont Graduate University

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The rise in incarceration rates correlates with the rise in political polarization, suggesting that increasingly politically polarized institutions like the parties may be contributing. Given that after the political realignment political polarization between the parties expands across gender lines, this paper analyzes if the political party that dominates a state legislature has an effect on overall and incarceration rates. State-level data are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Census Bureau among others, from 1978-2014. We use standard time series analysis techniques to ascertain if party control of state legislatures is related to fluctuations in overall incarceration rates.