Columbia Business School
Uris Hall 126
New York, NY 10027
Institutional Affiliation: Columbia University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2019||How Common are Electoral Cycles in Criminal Sentencing?|
with : w25716
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.
|Do Private Prisons Affect Criminal Sentencing?|
with : w25715
Using a newly constructed complete monthly panel of private and public state prisons, we ask whether private prisons impact judges’ sentencing decisions in their state. We employ two identification strategies, a difference-in-difference strategy comparing court-pairs that straddle state-borders, and an event study. We find that the opening of private prisons has a large effect on sentence lengths shortly after opening but this effect dissipates once the prison is at capacity. Public prison openings have no such effects, suggesting that private prisons have an impact on criminal sentencing that public ones do not.