Regulating Corporate Criminal Sanctions: Federal Guidelines and the Sentencing of Public Firms
31 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2012 Last revised: 19 Nov 2012
Date Written: April 27, 2012
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.
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