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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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A Political History of Crime on the Congressional Agenda

A Political History of Crime on the Congressional Agenda

(p.28) Two A Political History of Crime on the Congressional Agenda
The Perils of Federalism

Lisa L. Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The nationalization of crime policy issues is a relatively new phenomenon in American history, but has foundations that extend back to the Civil War. This chapter develops a political history of crime's place on the national agenda that lays the groundwork for understanding the appeal of crime as a national political issue and the transformation of the interest group environment from local to national arenas. The chapter highlights the shifting jurisdictional terrain between state and national governments in the 19th and 20th centuries and the opportunities these shifts provided for expanding national attention to crime and violence. In particular, the chapter focuses on the historic use of the crime issue as a symbolic political lever that served to bolster narrow interest groups, policy entrepreneurs, racial hierarchies, and federal law enforcement bureaucracies, simplifying problem definitions and narrowing policy options in the process.

Keywords:   political history, crime, policy entrepreneurs, Mann Act, antilynching legislation, nationalization, race, jurisdiction

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