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January 2, 2013

"Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Carlos Berdejo and Noam Yuchtman now available via SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Whether judges respond to political pressure is an important question occupying social scientists. We present evidence that Washington State judges respond to such pressure by sentencing serious crimes more severely.  Sentences are around 10% longer at the end of a judge's political cycle than the beginning; deviations above the sentencing guidelines increase by 50% across the electoral cycle.  We conduct robustness and falsi fication exercises and distinguish between judges' election cycles and other officials' by exploring non-linear eff ects of electoral proximity.  Our fi ndings inform debates over judicial elections, and highlight the interaction between judicial discretion and the influence of judicial elections.

January 2, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink


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This study is reminiscent of that of the Israeli judges who are more lenient after eating lunch, and no longer hungry.

Both factors would violate procedural due process and should be raised as reversible errors.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 2, 2013 12:46:20 AM

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