How Common are Electoral Cycles in Criminal Sentencing?

44 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019

See all articles by Christian Dippel

Christian Dippel

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Michael Poyker

University of Nottingham, School of Economics

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

Existing research on electoral sentencing cycles shows that elected judges levy longer sentences when they are up for re-election. Using newly collected sentencing data including a number of states not previously studied, we find that elected judges in several states do not appear to change their sentencing when they are up for re-election. This heterogeneity in the presence of electoral sentencing cycles appears to be best explained by cross-state variation in the competitiveness of judicial elections. Incumbent judges do levy harsher sentences when they are in a competitive re-election campaign, but in states where competition for judgeships is low this does not come to the forefront.

Suggested Citation

Dippel, Christian and Poyker, Mikhail, How Common are Electoral Cycles in Criminal Sentencing? (March 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25716, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3368006

Christian Dippel (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Mikhail Poyker

University of Nottingham, School of Economics ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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