Criminal Processing in California: A Multistate Analysis of the Efficacy of Judicial Practices

Evelyn J. Patterson, Pennsylvania State University

This paper examines the criminal processing of three cohorts between 1985 and 1995 of persons incarcerated in California state correctional facilities. The work uses the multistate life table and Bureau of Justice Statistics' data from 1985 to 2003. The multistate life table is a device that estimates the frequency of visits and duration in a particular life-state (e.g. incarcerated, paroled, freed from prison). Thus, it facilitates an assessment of California’s judicial system during a period characterized by sentencing transformation such as the “three strikes” policy. The extant literature concentrates on specific deterrence analyses that have dichotomous outcomes (recidivate or do not recidivate) and rarely consider the severity of punishment. Investigating the changes in duration of stay in prison and parole and linking them to the number of visits to correctional life-states for the three distinct cohorts enables the current study to historically contextualize the efficacy of California’s judicial system.

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Presented in Session 89: Demography of Crime and Punishment