Regulating Corporate Criminal Sanctions: Federal Guidelines and the Sentencing of Public Firms

31 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2012 Last revised: 19 Nov 2012

See all articles by Cindy R. Alexander

Cindy R. Alexander

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Jennifer Arlen

New York University School of Law

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future

Date Written: April 27, 2012

Abstract

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Governing Organizations purport to constrain judicial discretion over corporate criminal penalties. We investigate the effect on courts' sentencing decisions using pre- and post-Guidelines data, including evidence on cases and penalties that the Guidelines do not completely control. We find that fines and total penalties are higher than they were previously. Evidence that fines increased more in Guidelines-constrained cases than elsewhere suggests the effort to constrain judicial discretion has had a direct effect. Evidence of higher total penalties, even in cases not directly constrained by the Guidelines, suggests that judges may have cooperated with the policy of imposing higher fines and total sanctions, although not to the extent that the Guidelines prescribe. Our findings are inconsistent with the basic attitudinal model from the political science literature. We explore other forces that may be at work.

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Cindy R. and Arlen, Jennifer and Cohen, Mark A., Regulating Corporate Criminal Sanctions: Federal Guidelines and the Sentencing of Public Firms (April 27, 2012). Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 42, No. S1, 1999; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2047095

Cindy R. Alexander

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ( email )

Washington
United States

Jennifer Arlen (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/profile.cfm?personID=20658

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-0533 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://business.vanderbilt.edu/bio/mark-cohen/

Vanderbilt University - Law School

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-328-5000 (Phone)

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