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Title: Assessing the Effects of Court-­‐Ordered Jail Population Caps: A Study of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act
Authors: Pankowski, Alison
Advisors: Massey, Douglas
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Realignment in California offers a natural laboratory in the effects of treating low-­‐level offenders differently. The results of this thesis suggest that population caps can drastically change the way jail (and perhaps state prison) populations look. With the prospect of more counties facing court-­‐ordered caps due to overcrowding, the study of population cap’s effects is essential. It is important to better understand these caps to determine whether the caps effectively help the jail inmates in terms of reducing crowding in jails or if the caps lead to higher release rates of inmates. California’s counties are a hotbed for studying the effects of treating low-­‐level offenders less severely, which many see as the start to ending our history of mass incarceration. Using ten difference-­‐in-­‐difference regressions, this thesis measures the average treatment effect of having a jail population cap during realignment. Four different variables were used to measure the effects of population caps: the percentage of unsentenced population in respect to the average daily population, the share of unsentenced and sentenced releases, and the percent capacity of the jails. Weighted averages, non-­‐weighted averages, and institutional averages were calculated to examine the data thoroughly. The findings demonstrate that capped counties are significantly different from their non-­‐capped counterparts. The population composition of capped counties changes significantly from uncapped counties after realignment. Though the shares of released sentenced and unsentenced populations do not change as a result of realignment, the data show that capped counties release a significantly larger share of their populations. Capped counties also faced significantly higher capacity rates following realignment than uncapped counties.
Extent: 102 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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