Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Heath Brown

Committee Members

Patrick O'Hara

Jeremy Porter

Andrew Sidman

Subject Categories

Political Science


Punishment, Loss of Power, Deterrence, Mediated Corruption, Public Trust, Institutional Integrity


Public distrust of government has increased because of the criminal behavior of federal legislators over time, due, at least in part, to the political effects on Congress (which causes confrontation and accusation), and therefore it is critical to study how Congress deals with the corruption of its members. This study examines the punishment of U.S. federal legislators for criminal corruption in the context of time. This was accomplished by collecting and analyzing original data by means of the multiple methods of binomial logistic regressions and content analysis. The results showed that several variables were predictive of the criminal justice and political punishment outcomes as well as providing reasons why various stakeholders thought that those punishments were justified. The implications of this research are that relationship between the criminal justice and the political variables can produce outcomes that help explain the punishment of Members of Congress. The negative effects of those crimes were harmful to Congress and such behavior damaged the credibility of the institution. This multiple-method dissertation examines 136 observations of federal legislators. Most of the members in the dataset were indicted, convicted and punished, and Congress needs to formulate policies that address the illicit behaviors of those members who engaged in crime in order to protect the institution and to reassure the public that a sense of justice prevails in the Capitol.