Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2020

Department 1

Political Science


Since the 1790s, prisons in the United States were built with the means of reducing crime rates through the usage of incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation. However, while it may seem intuitive to assume that higher incarceration rates yield lower crime rates, it is not regularly the case. Using the 2016 States dataset, I examine the effects of incarceration rates and its influence on crime rates in the United States; I suggest that states with higher incarceration rates will have higher crime rates than states with lower incarceration rates. Therefore, the evidence concludes states with high incarceration rates generate higher rates of violent, murder, property, and burglary crime rates than states with lower incarceration rates. However, the impact is relatively low. Conclusively, while there is a positive relationship between incarceration rates and crimes rates, the correlation is not strong nor consistent enough to make a solid argument; rather, the data suggest other factors, such as the education, per capita income and unemployment rate, are contributors to the rise of crime, thus, further research needs to be taken into consideration because incarceration rates cannot be the sole explanation as to why there is an increase of crime rates throughout the United States.


Written for POL 215: Political Science Research Methods.