Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Carlos Berdejo (pictured) and Noam Yuchtman (Loyola Law School Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business) have posted Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing (Review of Economics and Statistics, Forthcoming) on 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 falsification exercises and distinguish between judges' election cycles and other officials' by exploring non-linear effects of electoral proximity. Our findings inform debates over judicial elections, and highlight the interaction between judicial discretion and the influence of judicial elections.