A paper co-written by Xin Yanyu, a PhD student in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Macau (UM), and her supervisor, Assistant Professor Cai Tianji, has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, one of the top journals in criminology and penology. Titled ‘Paying Money for Freedom: Effects of Monetary Compensation on Sentencing for Criminal Traffic Offenses’, the paper explores new possibilities and directions for sentencing studies.

Using data mining technology, the study obtained over 140,000 valid sentencing documents for criminal traffic offences that occurred in China between 2014 and 2016. With a joint model approach using both sentence length and probation as outcomes, the paper adopts a Zero-Truncated-Generalized-Inflated-Poisson model to address the distributional characteristics of sentence length, such as non-zero values and the concentration of data on certain points. The study has found that the effect of compensation on sentencing is twofold. First, the likelihood of being granted a probation increases when monetary compensation is provided, but the compensation does not make a significant difference on the sentence length for defendants receiving less than three years of imprisonment. Second, compensation can make a potentially ineligible case, which would have resulted in more than 36 months of imprisonment, become eligible for probation by compressing the length to exactly 36 months. This study not only benefits Chinese sentencing research in terms of data, methodology, and empirical findings, but also provides new possibilities and directions for sentencing studies.

The paper is one of the studies of Chinese criminal sentencing documents led by Dr. Cai. The project aims to explore the characteristics and patterns of criminal sentencing in China by analysing online judicial documents, in order to enhance the current research methods for sentencing studies.

Founded in 1985, Journal of Quantitative Criminology publishes papers that apply quantitative techniques to substantive, methodological, or evaluative concerns relevant to the criminological community. This journal is well-known for papers that explore new directions for studying a broad range of criminological topics. In terms of impact factor, the journal was ranked No 2 in 2017 and No 3 in 2018 out of all peer-reviewed journals in the category of criminology and penology.