Sentencing Corporate Crime: Responses to Scandal and Sarbanes-Oxley

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This thesis assesses the effects of the accounting scandals of the early 2000s and the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act (commonly known as Sarbanes-Oxley) on sentences for corporations in federal criminal court. I hypothesize that the time period in which the case was sentenced will exert both direct and interactive effects on the likelihood of harsh punishments and mediate the effects of legal and extralegal variables on the same. This research uses a probit regression model to explore the direct and interactive effects of extralegal characteristics across time with pooled cross-sectional data from the United States Sentencing Commission organizational data series. Companies sentenced during the scandal period were more likely to receive harsh fines, consistent with a collective framing argument. Evidence also suggests that certain offender and offense characteristics are doubly-penalized.