Explaining Inter-Jurisdicitional Differences in Sentence Severity

Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School
Robert R. Weidner, University of Minnesota Duluth

This paper examines inter-jurisdictional differences in the severity of sentences meted out to felons in a national sample of counties. Using hierarchical modeling of multilevel data, this research controls for many case-based legal and extralegal factors underlying punishment severity, while at the same considering the impact of contextual factors (e.g., political conservatism). Results of this study demonstrate the importance of considering smaller geographic units (i.e., counties instead of states) in the study of inter-jurisdictional differences in punishment severity.

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Updated 05/20/2006