Prosecutorial Discretion and the Imposition of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 427-458, 2007

33 Pages Posted: 11 May 2010

See all articles by Jeffery Todd Ulmer

Jeffery Todd Ulmer

Penn State University

Megan Kurlychek

State University of New York

John H. Kramer

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Sociology and Criminology

Date Written: December 1, 2007

Abstract

In Pennsylvania, the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences presents an important opportunity to examine relatively “pure” prosecutorial discretion over sentencing outcomes. The authors present a multilevel analysis of the prosecutorial decision to apply a mandatory minimum among mandatory eligible offenders sentenced for drug crimes or as repeat, “three-strikes” offenders. They find that prosecutors’ decisions to apply the mandatory minimum are significantly affected by the type and characteristics of offenses and guideline sentence recommendations, prior record, mode of conviction, and gender. They also find that Hispanic males are more likely to receive mandatory minimums and that Black-White differences in mandatory application increase with county percentage Black. The authors frame and interpret their analysis and findings in light of the uncertainty reduction theory of prosecutorial discretion, the view of courts as communities, and an integrative focal concerns perspective on criminal justice decision-making.

Keywords: prosecutorial discretion, sentencing, mandatory minimums, courts

Suggested Citation

Ulmer, Jeffery Todd and Kurlychek, Megan and Kramer, John H., Prosecutorial Discretion and the Imposition of Mandatory Minimum Sentences (December 1, 2007). Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 427-458, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1604614

Jeffery Todd Ulmer (Contact Author)

Penn State University ( email )

Department of Sociology
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Megan Kurlychek

State University of New York ( email )

1400 Washington Avenue
Building, Room 109
Albany, NY 12222
United States

John H. Kramer

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Sociology and Criminology ( email )

PA
United States

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