Date of Award

Summer 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

Committee Chair

William W. Johnson

Committee Chair Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 2

Lisa Nored

Committee Member 2 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 3

Hayden Griffin

Committee Member 3 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 4

Kimberly Chism

Committee Member 4 Department

Criminal Justice


Interest groups have been prevalent in American society for decades. Much of interest groups’ (IGs) influence has been examined by their effect on decision-making. IGs’ ability to affect policy choices is undeniable both legislatively and judicially. Analyses of judicial decision-making generally focus on the use of amicus curiae briefs (ACBs) by IGs. While most analyses of IGs’ influence have been conducted using quantitative methods, few have assessed IGs’ effect on decision-making qualitatively. Although the literature on IGs and decision-making is well established among political scientists, these concepts have been discussed much less among criminologists. The current analysis fill this void by conducting a qualitative content analysis of ACBs submitted by IGs working to reform corrections through USSC litigation. By doing so, this analysis more exhaustively identifies IGs involved in corrections reform and their stances on various issues. Additionally, this approach provides a more in depth understanding of how and why ACBs have been an effective strategy for IGs.