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The Perils of FederalismRace, Poverty, and the Politics of Crime Control$
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Lisa L. Miller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331684.001.0001

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Interest Groups and Crime Politics at the State Level

Interest Groups and Crime Politics at the State Level

(p.85) Four Interest Groups and Crime Politics at the State Level
The Perils of Federalism

Lisa L. Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The primary focus of this chapter is the relationship between group interests and the legislative policy process in Pennsylvania. In striking similarity to the situation in Congress, criminal justice agencies and a few prolific groups representing professional and single-issue citizen interests generally dominate. The citizen groups that appear are ones that specialize in the crime issue du jour—guns, sex offenses, crimes against children, or the death penalty. The share of hearings that includes citizen groups has increased, but a closer examination reveals that this is due to a dramatic increase in single-issue groups and a decline in groups with more diffuse interests. This picture of legislative crime hearings is confirmed by extensive interviews with state legislators, whose contact with citizen organizations is limited to a handful of high-profile, single-issue, and civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and several statewide women's organizations. The ubiquity of prosecutors, law enforcement, and single-issue groups focused on women, children, and civil liberties leaves a glaring hole in policy debates about crime: the omission of the interests of the poor and urban minorities, many of whom face serious crime on a regular basis. This chapter also discusses the limitations of the American Civil Liberties Union as a group representing the broad interests of citizens at risk of crime and violence.

Keywords:   single-issue groups, broad citizen groups, American Civil Liberties Union, district attorney, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, sex offenses, crimes against women

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