The Imprisoned Welfare State

Author: Jack Hill
Major: Political Science
Approved: Fall 2016
Status: Completed

In the United States, there has been a decrease in both federal and state spending on reducing poverty as a whole. At the same time, Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ has made the United States the world leader in incarceration. This study aims to see if the prison state has replaced the welfare state and if the same conclusions about the revolving door of welfare benefits can be reached about the revolving door of prisons. To this end, I plan to conduct an empirical, statistic-driven study in two parts. The first part will involve both reviewing the existing literature while also working with policy groups who advocate for the impoverished. This internship not only speaks to the project itself, but also to my career interests. The second term of study will be an independent study with Dr. Parsons wherein I will conduct advanced statistical analysis to test the following hypothesis: “the current American drug policy in conjunction with a weak social safety net has led to an increase in incarceration”. I will be mainly using data collected in Michigan State’s “Correlates of State Policy;” the datasets concerning criminal justice and fiscal spending being of specific interest to this project. As needed, other datasets and data sources will be consulted. This statistical analysis, in addition to the valuable knowledge gained while interning, will allow me to write a political science style paper wherein I review literature, conduct analyses of the data, and create policy suggestions given both my findings and my experience during my internship. In addition, I hope to present these finding at the Southern Political Science Association in January of 2018.