ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

                     The Federal Organizational Sentencing Guidelines:

                        A Case Study of Regulatory Decision Making


                                   Laurel Jeanne Rodriguez

                   Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology, Law and Society

                             University of California, Irvine, 2005

                                Professor Henry Pontell, Chair

       The United States Sentencing Commission promulgated federal organizational

sentencing guidelines in 1991. The final product eroded the guidelines’ original severity, as

drafts were rejected over a period of four years. The initial goal of the Commission was to

implement organizational guidelines that were on par with individual-level sanctions in order

to remove any suggestion that powerful corporations receive lesser penalties than individuals

convicted of “street crimes”. This study analyzes the erosion of the Commission’s stated goal

by evaluating the organizational structures, individual and group characteristics, and the

social, political, economic, and historical contexts involved in the evolution of federal

sentencing guidelines for organizations. The research employs case study methodology to

detail the events surrounding the formation of the guidelines within the framework of

regulatory and state theories. Data are drawn from interviews, transcripts of public and

Congressional hearings, Commission documents, and media reports. The study’s goal is the

chronological reconstruction and contextual analysis of the decision making process of the

Commission in its development and publication of the guidelines. Results indicate that, while

structural-level variables played a large part in explaining the development of the guidelines,

a more accurate and complete understanding of this process is possible by including an

analysis of the individual-level characteristics of Commissioners, including their

professional backgrounds, ideological perspectives, styles of leadership, and future goals.

       In addressing the issue of public policy formation, this research can inform and

expand knowledge of the complex dynamics of law creation by examining the micro-macro

link incorporated in the decision making process.


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