65 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2012
Date Written: December 28, 2012
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.
JEL Classification: K40, K42, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Berdejó, Carlos and Yuchtman, Noam, Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing (December 28, 2012). Review of Economics and Statistics, Forthcoming; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2012-50. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2194605
By David Pozen