How Common are Electoral Cycles in Criminal Sentencing?
44 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 2019
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.
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