Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness
Last registered on February 24, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005466
Initial registration date
February 21, 2020
Last updated
February 24, 2020 9:38 AM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-02-24
End date
2020-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Many criminal codes restrict judicial discretion in imposing prison sentences within sentencing ranges. Depending on whether the seriousness of the criminal activity e.g., the amount of drugs possessed, exceeds a threshold, two almost identical cases may fall in different sentencing ranges. We study the role of sentencing ranges on sentencing decisions and propose two mechanisms that affect sentencing decisions and that work in opposing directions around the threshold: (i) the severity effect and (ii) the reference case effect. The overall sentencing pattern depends on the relative strength of these two mechanisms. To test for the presence and the strength of the mechanisms, we propose an experiment with law students. Specifically, we intend to provide students with vignettes of illustrative criminal cases in which we exogenously vary the seriousness of the criminal activity, the sentencing ranges, and the values of thresholds and then collect their suggested sentences.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Drápal, Jakub, Josef Montag and Michal Šoltés. 2020. "Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness." AEA RCT Registry. February 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5466-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-02-24
Intervention End Date
2020-03-02
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
length of prison sentences
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We design an online survey experiment, in which we intend to provide students with vignettes of illustrative criminal cases in which we exogenously vary the seriousness of the criminal activity, the sentencing ranges, and the values of thresholds. We then collect their suggested sentences.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer: https://www.soscisurvey.de/.
Randomization Unit
Individuals (students).
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Approximately 3000 students invited, the response rate is unknown prior to the experiment.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 3000 students invited, the response rate is unknown prior to the experiment.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The experiment consists of two different criminal cases, which also differ in the number of treatment arms. In the first criminal case, there will be ca. 500 students invited per a treatment arm; while for the other case there will ca. 375 students invited per a treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number