By Simon Bastow (auth.)

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Additional info for Governance, Performance, and Capacity Stress: The Chronic Case of Prison Crowding

Sample text

In short, it may not be enough to put prison crowding down to prevailing views of a theoretical median voter. Other principal–agent theories help us to understand the potential for CCS to be sustained in large bureaucratic systems due to various types of ‘capacity-extracting’ behaviour by actors within. Whereas in the example of median-voter theory above, capacity stress is likely to be caused by capacity in the system ex ante, in the case of principal–agent explanations, capacity leaks out of the system due to the self-interested behaviour of actors.

To what extent therefore can we explain CCS as either a principal–agent problem or a coordination problem? 1 Key relationships between actors in the prison system Traditional Explanations of Capacity Stress 21 governments. Median-voter theory (Downs, 1957) predicts that the views and interests of elected officials will inherently reflect the views and interests of the median voter, particularly in polities with majoritarian electoral systems. We should not be surprised therefore if the issue of prison crowding ranks relatively lowly in the wider scheme of voters’ and therefore politicians’ priorities.

6) At the heart of many holistic approaches to public policy is a distinction and a relationship between three aspects: the values and goals of public policies; the way in which institutions are designed to achieve these goals; and finally, the way in which both of these aspects interact with their environment. In 1947, Robert Dahl wrote as much in an article entitled The Science of Public Administration: Three Problems. Throughout the 1960s, political scientists, notably David Easton, applied systems theory to political analysis, conceiving of the political process as a system consisting of defined inputs, transferred into outputs, which interact with the external environment, resulting in feedback loops defining inputs once again.

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