This research aims to address the relative scarcity of comparative studies of policy analysis in the area of criminal justice by looking at a familiar problem (prison overcrowding) in a less familiar comparative context (Russian policy environment) through the theoretical lens of Kingdon’s Multiple Streams framework. It presents a systematic record of the processes, which led to the significant changes in Russian penal policy, resulting in an overhaul of its sanctions and sentencing system. Based on a documentary review and legal analysis, an historical record, beginning in the late 1990s and progressing to 2003, is laid out. The record systematically describes events in the policy, problem, and political stream as they related to the creation of a policy image of prison overcrowding and Russian sanctions and sentencing policy in need of reform. Specifically, in the policy stream, there was an emergence of interest in non-custodial sanctions and liberalization of sentencing rules as a long-term legislative solution that could constrain the growth of prison population. In the problem stream, the magnitude of the overcrowding crisis demanded more radical and lasting solutions to the problem. In the political stream, changes in political leadership echoed national demands for stability and order and led to further consolidation of political power by the President and Presidential Administration. The administration seized the opportunity to couple all three streams together and successfully created a policy image of sanctions and sentencing system in need of correction. Acting on behalf of the President, it was able to enact its vision of policy change with virtually no resistance from the closely controlled parliament. This research expands the applicability of Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Model beyond the scope of the public policy setting for which the model was originally designed (i.e., American public policy agenda-setting).
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Thesis advisor: Verdun-Jones, Simon
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