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6 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 1 (1992)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr6 and id is 1 raw text is: 
CJPR, VOL. 6, NO. 1/92, pp. 1-16

Adapting Conservative Correctional Policies To
The Economic Realities Of The 1990s*

Alida V. Merlo
   Westfield State College
Peter J. Benekos
   Mercyhursi College
   This article reviews the impact that the punitive, get tough policies of
the 1980s have had on corrections. With record breaking increases in prison
populations, legislators and policy makers have had to confront the realities
of fiscal constraints while responding to the conservative agenda on crime.
The consequence has been to develop and expand alternatives to incarceration
which can be both tough on criminals but cheaper than traditional prison
punishment. However, intermediate punishments such as intensive probation,
electronic monitoring, and shock incarceration may be widening the correc-
tional net. In reviewing these developments, the authors examine ideologies
and consequences, and observe that economic considerations will influence
corrections policies in the 1990s.

   The United States has surpassed all other countries in the world in the
number and rate of people incarcerated. According to the Sentencing Project,
there are currently 1.1 million offenders in American prisons; and the in-
carceration rate is 455 per 100,000 (Butterfield, 1992:A16). Unfortunately,
there appears to be no end to this trend. It is estimated that the prison population
will increase by 30 percent by 1995. The doubling of the number of inmates
between 1980 and 1990 has posed significant problems for the federal gov-
ernment and the fifty states (Butterfield, 1992:A16).
   This paper examines the conservative policies underlying the record-break-
ing increases, the resulting dilemma of skyrocketing prison construction costs,
and the search for effective alternatives.Ironically, the alternatives to incar-
* An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy
   of Criminal Justice Sciences in 1992 in Pittsbureh. Pennsylvania.

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