Do Sentencing Guidelines Raise the Cost of Punishment?
AbstractWhen judges have discretion over fines and prison terms, sentencing exhibits a tendency" toward efficiency: fines are larger, and prison terms shorter, for offenders with greater ability to" pay. Sentencing guidelines place fairly rigid upper and lower limits on fines and prison terms" and may inhibit the achievement of efficiency in sentencing. Preventing judges from substituting" fines for prison terms may raise the cost of imposing punishment. The objective of this paper is" to measure the efficiency cost of sentencing guidelines using data on federal offenders sentenced" under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. We find evidence that the guidelines raise the cost of" punishment by nearly 5 percent of the total imprisonment cost of federal offenders. Not" surprisingly, constraints on cost minimization raise costs.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6361.
Date of creation: Jan 1998
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
- K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
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- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982.
"The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment,"
NBER Working Papers
0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Waldfogel, Joel, 1993. "Criminal Sentences as Endogenous Taxes: Are They "Just" or "Efficient"?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 139-51, April.
- Lott, John R, Jr, 1987. "Should the Wealthy Be Able to "Buy Justice"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1307-16, December.
- Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "Are Fines and Prison Terms Used Efficiently? Evidence on Federal Fraud Offenders," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 107-39, April.
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