Do Political Contributions Influence Public Policy? The Case of Private Prisons
Madel, Jacob D.
Encinosa, William E
A major public policy issue faced by all States recently has been the decision whether to privatize prisons. However, the dramatic increase in the number of private prisons in the United States since the early 2000s has also been commensurate with an increase in private prison industry political contributions to state legislatures, raising the question of how much of public policy is driven by political contributions. This relationship between the growth in prisons and political contributions has not yet been examined in the literature. Using data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the United States' Prison Census, multivariate regression methods were used to simultaneously test the impact of political contributions on prison privatization and the reverse impact of privatization on contributions. The results show that political contributions are statistically significant drivers of private prison growth. These findings may have repercussions for how criminal justice policy is made in the United States.
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