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NCJ Number: 135632 Find in a Library
Title: Sentencing, Race and the Poor
Journal: America  Volume:163  Issue:20  Dated:(December 29, 1990)  Pages:508-511
Author(s): G M Anderson
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Current sentencing legislation has a disproportionately harsh impact on the poor, especially minority poor.
Abstract: According to a 1990 report by The Sentencing Project, almost 1 in 4 young black men aged 20 to 29 is either in jail or prison or on probation or parole on any given day. For white men in the same age group, the ratio is only 1 in 16. This disproportionate representation of Afro-Americans under corrections supervision is due largely to the impact of sentencing guidelines. Under sentencing guidelines now in force in all Federal jurisdictions and in over 15 States, an offender's prior record is one factor that determines the severity of a sentence. Poor, black males are more likely to have juvenile records than more affluent white juveniles, because the white families can post bail and pay for private drug treatment programs. Young white males are also more likely to find jobs and establish residence than young black males. This makes diversion more likely for white juvenile first offenders than black juvenile first offenders. Mandatory sentences for drug offenses also disproportionately impact black inner city residents, since the bulk of anti-drug funds are spent on inner city enforcement. Sentencing practices overall were found to be racially discriminatory in a 1989 study by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Much of this was attributed to a disproportionately white judiciary and prosecutorial staff. Efforts should be made to provide for more flexible sentencing, particularly for drug offenses, and a proportionate representation of minorities among criminal justice personnel involved in sentencing.
Main Term(s): Sentencing disparity
Index Term(s): Class discrimination; Racial discrimination
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