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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136542 Find in a Library
Title: Race and Imprisonment Decisions in California
Journal: Science  Volume:247  Dated:(February 1990)  Pages:812-816
Author(s): S Klein; J Petersilia; S Turner
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 5
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Data were analyzed for 11,553 California offenders who were convicted of assault, robbery, burglary, theft, forgery, or drug crimes in 1980 to evaluate race and imprisonment decisions in the State.
Abstract: Racial bias was examined while controlling for the nature of crimes committed, prior record, other offender characteristics, and race. The analysis focused on two sentencing decisions separately: the decision to send an offender to prison or place him/her on probation; and the length of term imposed on those imprisoned. The sample of prisoners and probationers came from data collected by the California Board of Prison Terms. Detailed information was available on the offender's criminal, personal, and socioeconomic characteristics and on important aspects of the case and court handling. Whether an offender was given probation or sentenced to prison could be predicted with 80-percent accuracy from a combination of variables that described defendant and crime characteristics and criminal justice processing. The addition of race to the prediction equation for a given crime type did not improve prediction accuracy. No evidence indicated that other factors related to imprisonment, for example, number of conviction counts and going to trial, masked a relation between race and imprisonment. In addition, race was not related to the length of prison term imposed. The findings generally indicate that California courts are making racially equitable sentencing decisions. 10 references and notes and 6 tables
Main Term(s): Incarceration; Racial discrimination
Index Term(s): California; Probation or parole decisionmaking; Sentencing disparity
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