Date of Original Version

Spring 2016



Abstract or Description

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws and plea bargaining are two vital elements of the United States justice system. Lacking from current literature is a formal exploration of whether or not the existence of one has a causal relationship with the other. Whether or not the existence of mandatory minimums sentencing laws makes a difference in the plea bargain decision making process of defendants is an important research question that is addressed here. To provide a foundation of understanding of the current state of research on both plea bargains and mandatory minimums, a literature review will cover several different formulations of plea bargain decision making, including a shadow of trial model, econometric models, and game theory models, as well as other viewpoints examining plea bargains as a collective action problem among defendants, and a market to be regulated. Literature on mandatory minimums delves into the history of their enactment, the original motivations and rationales for imposing them, their effectiveness in achieving those goals, and the current state of how mandatory minimums are imposed across the country. Additional literature examines the connection between the two, insofar as it has been studied previously


Advisor: Geoffrey McGovern

Institute for Politics and Strategy

Embargo Date