An Agency Cost Analysis of the Sentencing Reform Act: Recalling the Virtues of Delegating Complex Decisions
20 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2005
For many outside the legal profession, the end of a legal case is the reading of the verdict. However, that is only the beginning for those being judged. One of the most significant and delicate tasks within the sphere of the legal system is that of sentencing those convicted. Because of the extreme personal impact that a judge's sentencing has on each individual, the most effective approach to creating guidelines for sentencing has been a hot topic of debate. Upon the birth of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the system changed from one of standards to one of often impractical rules. Despite the noble intention of this reform to prevent self-interested judges from acting upon their own interests, there is still reason to question how effective this new system is in preventing self-interested sentencing from occurring. This article reviews both the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 as well as the previous standard-based method through an agency cost model while looking forward to the next sentencing reform.
Keywords: Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Agency Cost Analysis, rules versus standards
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation