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The effect of prison or jail sentences on recidivism is an important issue to those concerned with public safety and the cost-effectiveness of putting convicted offenders in prison. This paper summarizes theories and empirical studies on the effect of sentencing on recidivism. Study findings indicate that for some offenders, incarceration and longer confinement seem to increase the risk of recidivism. For other offenders, the likelihood of re-offense will either be unaffected or reduced by longer terms of incarceration. Furthermore, early-release programs do not appear to affect overall recidivism rates.
Employment was emphasized as a major pathway off welfare in the federal reform of the AFDC program. For this report, five years of Family Income Study data were analyzed to determine which factors affected the likelihood of employment for women who received public assistance.
The majority of women who receive AFDC are short-term assistance users and leave AFDC within two years. Long-term users of public assistance, however, present a dilemma to both state and national policymakers in terms of cost and perceived "welfare dependency." The federal Family Support Act and its Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program now directs states to focus upon education, training, job search, and job development activities for potential long-term users of AFDC. Using five years of Family Income Study data, this study compared the characteristics of short-term and long-term users of AFDC in Washington State during the period of 1988-1992.
Policy debates regarding sentencing for sex offenders frequently focus on recidivism rates and treatment techniques. This paper addresses the financial aspects of sentencing, comparing the costs of three sentencing options in Washington State.
By looking at the changing economic circumstances of Washington families over a four-year period, we found changes in annual family income to be common. Such changes in income are called "income mobility." Over the period we studied, increases in family incomes were more common than decreases; national studies have reported similar findings. Our state's longitudinal study, the Family Income Study, allows us to see income mobility over four years (1988-1991) among low-income families in Washington State.
This information on public assistance households is from the Family Income Study, a five-year longitudinal survey of persons receiving, or at risk of receiving, public assistance. The study was requested by the 1987 Legislature.
This paper uses Family Income Study data to examine child care use among public assistance households and a comparison group of households at risk of receiving assistance in 1988. To illustrate more current child care patterns, we describe child care use of those households from the original 1988 public assistance sample that also received public assistance in 1991.
Policymakers in some states are considering limiting public assistance grants for applicants who have recently migrated from states that offer lower monthly grants. This policy change reflects the belief that states offering higher monthly grants attract welfare recipients. In January 1992, Washingtons maximum AFDC benefit for a family of three ranked 10th highest out of the 50 states. When compared with neighboring states, Washington has a higher public assistance grant amount than Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and a lower grant amount than California. Apart from California, eight additional states pay higher grants than Washington. We get migrants from these states as well.
Most states increase the monthly public assistance grant when a new baby is born into the household. Recently, policymakers in some states have either eliminated, or proposed to eliminate, the grant increase. These changes in public assistance policy are based on the belief that the structure of grant payments may provide an economic incentive for women on public assistance to have more children.
Washington State Senate Bill 5474 created an interagency task force to examine data collection efforts related to the education and well-being of children. Task force members represented legislative staff; key state agencies involved with data collection and with children's programs; and the associations of school directors, school administrators, cities, and counties. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy provided the staff support for the task force. The task force's primary purpose was to determine ways to provide aggregated program data on children, using school district boundaries as the mechanism for sorting the information.