Selective Incapacitation and Public Policy

Evaluating California's Imprisonment Crisis

By Kathleen Auerhahn

Subjects: Legal Studies
Series: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies
Paperback : 9780791457986, 236 pages, October 2003
Hardcover : 9780791457979, 236 pages, October 2003

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Table of contents


Part I: The Criminal in Society: Penal Response and Rationale

1. Introduction

2. Criminal Punishment in Civil Society: Purpose and Method

3. Criminal Sentencing Reform and Paradigm Change in California

Part II: Incapacitation and Dangerousness

4. Selective Incapacitation

5. Dangerousness

6. Assessing the Level of Dangerousness in the Criminal Justice System

Part III: Evaluating the Past, Choosing the Future

7. Modeling the California Criminal Justice System, Part I: Reproducing and Evaluating the Past

8. Modeling the California Criminal Justice System, Part II: Predictive Evaluation

9. Conclusion: Choosing California's Future

Technical Appendix A: Data Sources and Estimation Procedures

Technical Appendix B: Example of Simulation Model Code



Subject Index

Author Index

Using cutting-edge methodologies, this book evaluates California's measures to protect the public from dangerous criminals.


From the 1970s to the new millennium, the prison population in the United States has quadrupled while an unprecedented amount of sentencing reform has taken place, largely intended to protect the public from dangerous criminals. This book details the California experience, including the history and politics of criminal sentencing policy reform, as well as the consequences of this activity to the criminal justice system. Using cutting-edge computer simulation modeling, Kathleen Auerhahn explores the impact that sentencing reforms dating back to the 1970s have had on the composition and structure of the criminal justice system, with specific focus on prison populations. She illustrates how dynamic systems simulation modeling is used to both examine "possible futures" under a variety of sentencing structures and sentencing policy alternatives, including narrowing "strike zones" and the early release of elderly offenders, in order to more effectively target the dangerous criminals these policies promise to remove from society via incarceration.

Kathleen Auerhahn is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Temple University.