Interests, Venues, and Group Participation
This chapter introduces the core themes of the book: that federalism structures the representation of interest groups; that groups with broad public interest concerns have difficulty operating in state and national legislative venues; and that the local level can sometimes offer the most pluralistic, competitive policy environment. The central argument of the book is that the federalization of crime control has resulted in a mobilization of bias in favor of governmental bureaucracies and narrow citizen interests and at the expense of broad citizen groups with a wide range of interests, particularly those that represent the communities most devastated by crime. Drawing on research on federalism, interest groups, and racial politics, this chapter suggests that understanding the environment available for interest groups at each level of government reveals how public debate on crime control is atrophied when the rich mix of loosely organized interests at the local level is absent from state and national political environments. This chapter also lays out the methodology for the research and offers a typology for understanding citizen participation in crime politics at each level of government.
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