Digging Deeper Into Incarceration Data

For our final project, one of the main problems Helen and I ran into was the dearth of information pertaining to our subject: how do incarceration rates affect voter turnout? Actually, it was not the dearth of information so much as a lack of raw datasets. Mostly we were finding incomplete and/or aggregate data that did not paint a full picture. Even though our final project is done, I thought I would do some extra digging and see what I could find now that we have a set narrative determined. 

I did not perform any analysis on them, but here are some further sources I found that Helen and I can look into should we decide to continue expanding the research into our project.

US Election Assistance Commission - in 2014, the EAC put out an all-inclusive report detailing the country's citizens' ability to register to vote and cast a ballot. Their report was split into two: one half covering the administrative aspect of counting ballots, the other on each state's election laws and procedures. The best part? They have raw data sets!

"Punishment and Democracy: Disenfranchisement of Nonincarcerated Felons in the United States" - this may be an old report (written in 2004 by professors from Northwestern and the University of Minnesota) but I think it's crucial for us to understand the current climate of this issue and how it has been addressed in the past, especially because neither of us have any background in this. The most telling aspect of the paper is its conclusions of racial disparity and disenfranchisement, and how it connects to the larger issue of how this relates to a skewed practice of democracy in the US today.

"Does Incarceration Reduce Voting? Evidence about the Political Consequences of Spending Time in Prison from Pennsylvania and Connecticut" - this paper from a number of Yale researchers looks at felon voter turnout, in particular, and found that even those who do have the right (in certain states that allow them) vote in very low numbers. Again, this is existing research we need to look at in order to ascertain how this finding figures into our narrative. 

Bureau of Justice Statistics - the Department of Justice has a surprising trove of data. The problem is, I have no idea what exactly I am looking for. In all honesty, I don't even quite know the difference between probation and parole so this research is a bit out of my league. However, the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics will definitely be a key player in filling in information gaps, particularly in terms of incarceration related numbers and information.  



Sriya Sarkar