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Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness: Experiment with Prosecutors
Last registered on June 18, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness: Experiment with Prosecutors
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006023
Initial registration date
June 18, 2020
Last updated
June 18, 2020 11:21 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-06-22
End date
2020-06-28
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 prosecutors. Specifically, we intend to provide prosecutors 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 and Michal Šoltés. 2020. "Sentencing Ranges and Quantified Seriousness: Experiment with Prosecutors." AEA RCT Registry. June 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6023-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-06-22
Intervention End Date
2020-06-28
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 prosecutors 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
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done by a computer: https://www.soscisurvey.de/.
Randomization Unit
Prosecutors.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Approximately 1200 prosecutors invited, the response rate is unknown prior to the experiment.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 1200 prosecutors invited, the response rate is unknown prior to the experiment.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Expected participation is around 300 prosecutors who will be then randomized into 4 treatment groups, i.e. 75 prosecutors 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
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS