Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Herbert Geyer

Committee Members

Bernard Okun

Dennis R. Young

Subject Categories



The purpose of this dissertation is to present an exposition of the applications of economics to corrections. The approach includes a synthesis of knowledge in the area, suggestions on how economics might be further brought to bear on correctional issues, and recommendations for future research. The overall framework is one of policy analysis, in which objective, scientifically-based information is used in the action setting of public programs.

A review of the history of corrections is included to provide an appreciation for the multiple, conflicting goals under which corrections functions today. A review of the state-of-the-art in corrections provides a sense of the magnitude of the populations, activities, and expenditures which characterize this component of the criminal justice system.

The role and contributions of cost, comparative cost, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit analysis are extensively surveyed, illustrating the substantial existing knowledge of correctional inputs and the lesser state of output measures and valuation.

Economic research on institutions (prisons and jails) is reviewed and critiqued. Preliminary findings on correctional cost functions, the nature of marginal and average costs for state and federal institutions are reviewed and policy recommendations discussed. Prison industries are discussed in the context of opportunity costs, human resource accounting, and the need for goal specification prior to further analysis.

Corrections in the community is analyzed from an economic perspective; private sector service providers, subsidy programs, and offender restitution, fees, and financial aid are reviewed from both the viewpoint of current research findings and the potential for additional economic research.

Contributions and recommendations are examined for their feasibility in a policy setting and suggestions are offered to improve future research and widen the application of economics to corrections.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

Included in

Economics Commons