Richard Rosenfeld Revisits Legacy of 1994 Crime Bill in New Report for Council on Criminal Justice

"...Rosenfeld’s report, titled 'Overviews and Reflections,' was intended to lead off of a series of academic papers planned on 'The 1994 Crime Bill: Legacy and Lessons.' It was published last week just ahead of the 25th anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing it into law.

A companion paper by criminologists William J. Sabol and Thaddeus L. Johnson looks more closely at the bill’s impact on prison populations.

'A selective reading of the legislation has resulted in... claims that the bill contributed to mass incarceration when, in fact, there is little evidence that it did,' Rosenfeld said.

He notes that the law only directly applied to the federal prison system, while much of the explosion in prison populations occurred at the state level. What’s more, much of that growth occurred before the bill was signed, and the rate of growth actually decreased after the bill had been enacted.

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