A Decade of Data: What Have We Learned About the Sentencing of Organizations in Federal Court?

Gary A. Rabe, Minot State University

Using the sentencing event as the unit of analysis, federally convicted organizations sentenced in U.S. District Courts from 1988 through 1999 are analyzed to see whether Chapter 8 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines has been manifested in the actual sentencing of organizations. Many factors specified by Chapter 8 are supposed to impact the amount of organizational fining, and this paper examines the extent to which those factors are present in the actual sanctions imposed. If any single factor stands out as affecting the organizational fine, it is the aggravating factor of whether upper level management condoned or participated in the offense. The other major culpability justification for punishment was whether the organizational employees attempted to thwart their criminalization through an obstruction of justice. It is also noteworthy that several variables were not related to fining, such as recidivism and plea. Because plea was unrelated to the amount of the fine, it can be concluded that there is not trial penalty in the sentencing of organizations as is so pervasive in the sentencing of individuals. Theoretical and empirical backgrounds on the federal sentencing of organizations are also included in the discussion, as is an explanation of the implementation of Chapter 8 guidelines.

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Updated 05/20/2006