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NCJ Number: 114480 Find in a Library
Title: Social Background and the Sentencing Behavior of Judges
Journal: Criminology  Volume:26  Issue:4  Dated:(November 1988)  Pages:649-675
Author(s): M A Myers
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper explores the extent to which the social background of judges affects their sentencing behavior using data from a sample of felons convicted in Georgia between 1976 and 1985.
Abstract: Results suggest that judges' backgrounds had little direct bearing on sentencing outcomes. Rather, background conditions the weight judges attach to legally relevant and social background factors. Expectations about the role of judges' age, religion, prior prosecutorial experience, and local background received mixed support. Older judges were selectively more punitive than their younger colleague, but they did not direct this punitiveness toward disadvantaged offenders. There also was no evidence that male judges were more paternalistic toward female offenders. Baptist and Fundamentalist judges also sentenced more punitively, but they were not more likely than other judges to discriminate against black or disadvantaged offenders. Rather, they apperared to hold white and older offenders to a higher standard of behavior. Former prosecutors were selectively punitive and applied the law more uniformly relative to nonprosecutors. Local judges appeared to be more responsive to local demands for incarceration and sentenced more particularistically. Results illustrate the importance of considering judicial background in conjunction with case attributes and underscore the need for additional research into the influence of judicial background as a conditioner of differential treatment during sentencing. 7 tables and 59 references. (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Sentencing factors
Index Term(s): Georgia (USA); Judicial attitudes; Sentencing disparity
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