U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Following the Leader?: Presidential Influence Over Congress in the Passage of Federal Crime Control Policy

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 16 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2005 Pages: 267-286
Willard M. Oliver; David E. Barlow
Date Published
September 2005
20 pages
This study explored the influence of presidential activity on congressional passage of public laws related to crime from 1946 to 1996.
Previous research has suggested that factors other than actual crime rates impact the public’s perception of the crime problem and the development of criminal justice policy. In order to learn more about how and why crime control policies are constructed, the current analysis focused on the possible impact of presidential influence on the development of criminal justice legislation. Data included an analysis of public laws passed by full Congress relating directly to criminal justice policy, which was gathered from the U.S. Statutes at Large (1948-1987). Also examined were external factors, such as public opinion of crime, media reporting on crime, unemployment rate, and official crime rates. Presidential variables examined included number of speeches and letters related to crime, and presidential popularity while congressional variables included number of hearings related to crime. Results of qualitative and quantitative analyses, including multivariate time-series analysis, lend some support to the hypothesis that presidential attention to crime causes Congress to also focus on crime, thus assisting in the passage of crime legislation. Other factors found to influence crime policy were presidential popularity, official crime rates, and the political cycle of Congress. Future studies should focus on differences between president-sponsored and president-supported bills. Tables, figures, references


No download available