Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Shannon M. Monnat

Second Committee Member

David R. Dickens

Third Committee Member

Bo J. Bernhard

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew L. Spivak

Fifth Committee Member

Randall G. Shelden

Number of Pages



This project is a theory-driven secondary data analysis of state-level incarceration trends in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005. I replicate and advance Smith's (2004) study of the relationship between the socioeconomic, demographic, political, electoral, and criminal justice factors and incarceration rates at the state level. The purpose of this project is to determine the empirical validity of the major explanations of the incarceration trends in the U.S. I advance Smith's (2004) study using important novel elements. First, I extend the scrutinized historic period by a decade by compiling time-series data for 1980-2005. Second, I employ a more sophisticated analytic technique by utilizing multilevel linear models designed to control for repeated measures of state-level data. Third, I include the measures of partisan state government control and district electoral vulnerability, utilizing the Ranney index (1965; 1976) and Holbrook Van Dunk (1993) measure. The major finding of this project is the lingering association between the percent of state residents that are African American and incarceration rates net of violent crime and socioeconomic disadvantage. Results of hypothesis testing suggest that both utilitarian and extrajudicial factors are associated with incarceration in the U.S. hence both consensus and conflict views of incarceration are supported.


Corrections; Imprisonment; Incarceration; Politics; practical; Prisoners; Prisons; Punishment; Race


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Law Enforcement and Corrections | Public Policy | Sociology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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