County Effects on White-Collar Sentencing in Maryland Circuit Courts

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Research on local contexts has been a major development within sentencing literature in recent years. White-collar sentencing, however, is an area that has not received much attention from local contexts research. The current study addresses that gap, estimating geographical effects on sentencing outcomes for a group of white-collar offenders in Maryland’s circuit courts using data from the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy. The results show, consistent with local contexts research focused on conventional offenders, that the jurisdiction sentencing a white-collar defendant affects outcomes after controlling for a variety of individual-level case characteristics. The county effects this study finds, however, are not entirely consistent with what the local contexts of sentencing literature would predict for general offender sentencing. These findings, though limited, suggest that somewhat different dynamics may apply in the white-collar sentencing context, highlighting the need for further research in this area.