Sentencer orientation and case details: an interactive analysis
Qualitative measures of magistrates' sentencing orientations were incorporated with archival case data into a multivariate statistical model to examine the contribution of orientation-case variable interactions to penalties imposed on 678 drink-drivers by 8 magistrates in two Australian courts. Sentencing orientations included severity, emphasis on deterrence, use of tariffs, and attention to accident potential. The 44 case variables included blood alcohol concentration, prior offenses, and type of legal representation. Penalties included fine and license loss. Five orientation-case variable interactions contributed 20% of the explained variance in penalties after controls for case variables. Court effects were strong regardless of individualized orientations. The authors conclude that sentencing disparties reflect both personal schemas and court context. Reforms involving information systems should attend to the effects of sentencing orientations on individuals' use of case information. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Grants Scheme and university grants from Macquarie and Murdoch Universities (while Lawrence was a member of that university). Invaluable assistance in data collection and analysis was provided by Greg Robertson, Isabel Robinson, Anne Roberts, and Barbara Bentley.
Law and Human Behavior
Causes and Prevention of Crime