The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

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52. Crystal S. Yang, Have Inter-Judge Sentencing Disparities Increased in an Advisory Guidelines Regime? Evidence From Booker, 08/2013.

Abstract: The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were promulgated in response to concerns of widespread disparities in sentencing. After almost two decades of determinate sentencing, the Guidelines were rendered advisory in United States v. Booker. What has been the result of reintroducing greater judicial discretion on inter-judge disparities? This Article utilizes new data to undertake the first national empirical analysis of inter-judge disparities post Booker. Relying on the random assignment of cases to judges, I find that inter-judge disparities have doubled since the Guidelines became advisory. Some of the recent increase in disparities can be attributed to differential sentencing behavior associated with judge demographic characteristics. The application of mandatory minimums by prosecutors, potentially through the use of superseding indictments, is another prominent source of disparities.