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Did the Corporate Criminal Sentencing Guidelines Matter? Some Preliminary Empirical Observations

Listed author(s):
  • Parker, Jeffrey S
  • Atkins, Raymond A
Registered author(s):

    This paper presents an empirical analysis of the impact of the federal Sentencing Commission's 1991 guidelines for imposing criminal sentences on corporations convicted of federal crimes. Despite the Sentencing Commission's announced intentions of raising and restructuring corporate fines, we generally find no statistically significant change in the level or structure of corporate monetary penalties imposed under the guidelines during 1992-95, as compared with baseline data taken from preguidelines cases sentenced in 1988, after controlling for the harm attributed to the criminal offense. In an extension of that analysis, we find a marginally significant change in the relationship between corporate penalty levels and the presence of individual codefendants charged together with the corporation in the direction of attenuating that relationship in the postguidelines era. We discuss the implications of these findings from the perspective of the limited role played by corporate criminal sentencing determinations in the overall public law enforcement effort. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467431
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 42 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 423-453

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:42:y:1999:i:1:p:423-53
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "An Attempt at Measuring the Total Monetary Penalty from Drug Convictions: The Importance of an Individual's Reputation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 159-187, January.
    3. Block, Michael Kent & Nold, Frederick Carl, 1981. "The Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 429-445, June.
    4. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 583-608, October.
    5. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
    7. Karpoff, Jonathan M & Lott, John R, Jr, 1993. "The Reputational Penalty Firms Bear from Committing Criminal Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 757-802, October.
    8. Kobayashi, Bruce H. & Lott, John Jr., 1992. "Low-probability-high-penalty enforcement strategies and the efficient operation of the plea-bargaining system," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 69-77, March.
    9. Greene, William H, 1981. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error: Comment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 795-798, May.
    10. 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 1307-1316, December.
    11. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    12. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-891, December.
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