SAGE Journal Articles
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Prosecutors and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Abstract: In Pennsylvania, the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences presents an important opportunity to examine relatively “pure” prosecutorial discretion over sentencing outcomes. The authors present a multilevel analysis of the prosecutorial decision to apply a mandatory minimum among mandatory-eligible offenders sentenced for drug crimes or as repeat, “three-strikes” offenders. They find that prosecutors' decisions to apply the mandatory minimum are significantly affected by the type and characteristics of offenses and guideline sentence recommendations, prior record, mode of conviction, and gender. They also find that Hispanic males are more likely to receive mandatory minimums and that Black–White differences in mandatory application increase with county percentage Black. The authors frame and interpret their analysis and findings in light of the uncertainty reduction theory of prosecutorial discretion, the view of courts as communities, and an integrative focal concerns perspective on criminal justice decision-making.
Information and Death Penalty Support
Abstract: In 1972, former Supreme Court Justice Marshall postulated that the public was uninformed about the death penalty and information would change their support for it. There is some indication that information about the death penalty may change people’s level of support. This study re-examines data used by Lambert and Clarke (2001). Using multivariate analyses, the impact that information has on death penalty support is tested, along with level of prior knowledge about the death penalty, personal characteristics (gender, age, political affiliation, race, being a criminal justice major, academic level), and religious factors. The results suggest that information on both deterrence and innocence leads to a reduction in death penalty support and views on the death penalty. Furthermore, the results suggest that the information presented may have varying effects among different subgroups of people.