Criminal Sentencing in Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania
AbstractHow law is interpreted and enforced at a particular historical moment reflects contemporary social concerns and prejudices. This paper investigates the nature of criminal sentencing in mid-nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. It finds that extralegal factors, namely place of conviction and several personal characteristics, were important determinants of sentence length. The observed disparities in the mid-nineteenth century, however, are different than modern disparities. Instead of longer sentences, African Americans and recent immigrants tended to receive shorter sentences, whereas more affluent offenders received longer sentences. The results are consistent with other interpretations of the period as the "era of the common man."
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14283.
Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-09-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2008-09-05 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-LAW-2008-09-05 (Law & Economics)
- NEP-MIG-2008-09-05 (Economics of Human Migration)
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