National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Impact of the No Early Release Act (NERA) on Prosecution and Sentencing in New Jersey, 1996-2000 (ICPSR 4178)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study examined New Jersey's No Early Release Act (NERA), which became effective in 1997. NERA required that offenders convicted of violent crimes serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. This study's primary goal was to determine whether prosecutors changed their charging and plea bargaining practices in order to obtain sentences under NERA that were roughly equivalent to those imposed before NERA. Data were obtained from the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts for 1996 to May 2000. These data included every case in which a crime covered by the No Early Release Act was charged and, for comparison, every case involving a burglary charge, a charge not covered by NERA. These data cover defendants' progress through the New Jersey court system, including the initial charge, indictment, and sentencing.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

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Documentation:
Data:

Study Description

Citation

McCoy, Candace, and Patrick, Jr. McManimon. Impact of the No Early Release Act (NERA) on Prosecution and Sentencing in New Jersey, 1996-2000 . ICPSR04178-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04178.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (98-CE-VX-0007)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   disposition (legal), mandatory sentences, plea bargains, prosecuting attorneys, sentencing reforms

Smallest Geographic Unit:   None.

Geographic Coverage:   New Jersey, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1996--2000

Date of Collection:  

  • 2000

Unit of Observation:   Criminal charges

Universe:   Every charge in New Jersey from 1996 to May 2000 for a crime covered under the No Early Release Act, every charge for burglary, and all other charges involved in those cases.

Data Types:   administrative records data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study examined New Jersey's No Early Release Act (NERA). This act, which became effective on September 9, 1997, required that offenders convicted of violent crimes serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. This study's primary goal was to determine whether prosecutors changed their charging and plea bargaining practices in order to obtain sentences under NERA that were roughly equivalent to those imposed before NERA. For comparison purposes, cases involving a burglary charge, a felony not covered under NERA, were examined in addition to cases involving charges covered by NERA. The following questions guided the research: (1) Did prosecutors charge a greater proportion of defendants at offense levels not covered by the law's "violent offender" definitions after the act took effect? (2) As part of plea agreements, did prosecutors reduce charges from those covered by the act to offenses not covered by the act? (3) Did trial rates change for those offenses covered by the act?

Study Design:   Data were obtained from the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts for 1996 to May 2000. These data cover defendants' progress through the New Jersey court system, including the initial charge, indictment, and sentencing. The data include every case in which a crime covered by the No Early Release Act was charged and every case involving a burglary charge. Many of these cases also involved other charges, and these charges are also included in the data. From 1996 to May 2000 there were 468,944 charges brought against criminal defendants for crimes covered by the No Early Release Act, burglary, and less serious crimes that were also charged as part of these felony legal cases.

Sample:   inap.

Data Source:

Data were obtained from New Jersey's Administrative Office of the Courts.

Description of Variables:   Variables include initial charge statute, initial charge date, whether there was a codefendant in the case, initial charge disposition date, initial charge disposition, initial charge disposition reason, indictment statute, indictment date, indictment disposition, indictment disposition reason, amount of fines and compensation paid by offender, statute sentenced under, type of sentence imposed, and sentence date.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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