Both the welfare state and the criminal justice system have undergone tremendous changes in the past 50 years. While the "right hand" carceral state has swelled through increased populations and spending, the "left hand" welfare state has simultaneously shifted caseloads and spending toward programs that support and reward the working poor and away from cash programs for those in deep poverty. This dissertation examines the theoretical and empirical connections between the changes in these two "hands" of the state using the particular case of General Assistance (GA) welfare programs from 1960 to 2010. In three sets of analysis, this study examines what factors account for major changes in GA policy since the late 1950s, as well as how GA welfare provision has affected state incarceration rates and crime rates at the state and county level over time and space. Results from these analyses highlight two important points: 1) the outlook for low-income men (and others not eligible for federal welfare programs) has become more dire over the last several decades as states have ended income supports for this population in conjunction with higher rates of incarceration; and 2) the loss of such income supports impacts public safety since greater provision of GA is associated with reductions in several types of crime.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Christopher Uggen. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 214 pages, appendices p. 203-214.
Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? General Assistance welfare crime, and punishment in the United States.
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