Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Brent L. Smith

Committee Member

Mindy Bradley-Engen

Second Committee Member

Chris Shields

Third Committee Member

Kelly Damphousse


Attorney General Guidelines, Counter-terrorism, Intervention, Prosecution strategies


This study examines the shift of Attorney General Guidelines in the wake of September 11th, 2001, and the consequences for both federal law enforcement and federal prosecutors. Previous research has found that prosecutors are more apt to use an exceptional vagueness approach and try terrorists like traditional offenders. Likewise, terrorist are more likely to act like traditional offenders and plead guilty in the post-9/11 era. This study further supports the existing knowledge by providing evidence of increased plea bargain rates post-9/11 of terrorists. In addition, this study is important because it examines the consequences of the early intervention approach and its effect on the prevention of terrorism in the United States. The first and primary research question examines whether the proactive approach adopted after the attacks on September 11, 2001, has been effective in preventing terrorist attacks. The results indicated a decrease in terrorism incidents post-9/11. The second research question investigates the changes prosecutors have made to prosecute and charge defendants as a result of the shift from reactive to proactive policies. The majority of the hypotheses developed under this research question were supported, such as fewer counts per indictment, fewer defendants per case, and increases in plea bargains. However, count severity appears to remain consistent pre and post-9/11. The third research question examines the amount of evidence prosecutors have pre-9/11 to post-9/11 and the quantity of unconvicted counts per indictment in each era. The findings supported a decrease in evidence post-9/11 and an increase in unconvicted counts per indictment post-9/11. The final research question examines the change in conviction rate pre and post-9/11. The results indicate no change in the conviction rate pre-9/11 to post 9/11.