Sean Daly

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ward, Artemus, 1971-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Political science; Criminology; Sentences (Criminal procedure)--Washington (State); Criminal justice; Administration of--Political aspects--Washington (State); Judges--Political activity--Washington (State)


American trial judges exercise an enormous power when they sentence criminal offenders to a specific length of incarceration. Does the partisan affiliation of the trial judge affect the final determination in an offender's length of incarceration? Using a psychological framework, I examine the effects that partisanship, and ideology have on a judge's perception of the root causes of crime and the primary purpose that sentencing should serve in our criminal justice system. Using a unique proxy measure for judicial partisanship I analyze violent felony cases in Washington State from 2000 to 2006. I find that a Republican judge hands down a sentence 4.4% longer than a Democratic judge, controlling for other case factors. Additional analysis shows that this finding is most prominent in rape cases, in which a Republican judge can be expected to hand down a sentence 34% longer than his Democratic counterpart. I conclude with several possible explanations on why rape cases would trigger an exceptionally longer sentence from a Republican judge.


Advisors: Artemus Ward.||Committee members: Scot Schraufnagel; Mathew J. Streb.


62 pages




Northern Illinois University

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