Conclusions and Policy Implications
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The decade of the 1980s was one of tremendous pressure on the criminal justice system. Criminologists, judges, prosecutors, and corrections officials alike concurred that prison crowding was the primary source of that pressure and thus the most critical problem facing the administration of criminal justice. By mid-decade, all but a handful of the states had directly experienced crowding in their prison facilities. Moreover, there was a virtual tidal wave of prisoner rights litigation in the federal courts, linked largely to crowded prison conditions. By 1986, over two-thirds of the states had become involved in lawsuits over the constitutionality of their prison systems. By the end of the decade forty-one states were under some form of court order regarding prison crowding.
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