Examining the Influence of State-Level Characteristics on Sentence Outcomes Under the Federal Sentence Guidelines for Organizations

Jason L. Davis, Univ. of South Florida - St. Petersburg

One of the stated goals of the federal sentencing guidelines is to provide uniform and consistent punishments for defendants that commit similar offenses and have similar criminal backgrounds. As such, extralegal factors including geographical location should not affect sentence outcomes. However, research at the individual level has found that geographical factors influence sentence disparities (Kautt, 2002). This research examines whether locational factors affect sentence outcomes among organizational defendants. Using information from the 2001-2002 federal sentencing guidelines organizational defendant's data, initial findings indicate fine amounts vary by states. Theoretically, this research uses assertions from the state corporate crime perspective to suggest that state-level characteristics not only initiate and facilitate corporate crime but these state characteristics can also tolerate crime by failing to effectively punish corporate offenses. In particular, the goal of this research is to determine whether states identified as pro-business fine corporations lower than pro-labor states.

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Updated 05/20/2006