Incarceration Rates and Other Factors Influencing Crime Rates in the United States
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Over the past several decades the size of the United States prison population has exploded and led many people to question whether or not the massive number of citizens we send to prison each year is an effective way to reduce crime rates within our communities. This paper reviews how incarceration rates and other factors influence burglary rates and robbery rates within the United States. The study attempts to find if the rapid growth in the incarcerated population is actually acting to reduce crimes, and if other factors have a larger impact on crime rates. Both single and multiple regression models were used to estimate the relationship between robbery rates and burglary rates and incarceration rates and other variables such as GDP per capita, unemployment and correctional expenditure as a percentage of state expenditure. The data suggests that factors such as unemployment and correctional expenditure have much larger impacts on reducing crime rates than incarceration rates. The study also finds that contrary to the common belief among lawmakers, higher incarceration rates lead to higher crime rates. Ultimately the study concludes that the massive increase in incarceration rates is not acting to reduce crime and that addressing other factors may be a more effective approach to reducing crime.