Courtroom Workgroups: A Quantitative Description and Analysis of Their Effect on Sentencing

Stacy N. Hoskins, The Pennsylvania State University
Gretchen R. Ruth, The University of Chicago
R. Barry Ruback, The Pennsylvania State University

ABSTRACT
This study examined three aspects of courtroom workgroups over a 10-year period: proximity (i.e. the location of workgroup members' offices in relation to one another), similarity (i.e. how familiar workgroup members are with one another), and stability( i.e. the number of years workgroup members have worked together in the same jurisdiction). These three quantitative measures were then used to investigate how proximal and distal contexts affected sentencing decisions in Pennsylvania before and after a statutory change. The data for this study includes sentencing information from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing (PCS) for the years 1990-1994 and 1996-2000 and contextual information from the 2000 U.S. Census, the 2000 Uniform Crime Reports, and The Pennsylvania Manual (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) for the years 1989-2000.

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Updated 05/20/2006