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NCJ Number: 227828 Find in a Library
Title: Excessive Uniformity in Federal Drug Sentencing
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:25  Issue:2  Dated:June 2009  Pages:155-180
Author(s): Eric L. Sevigny
Date Published: June 2009
Page Count: 26
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study investigated s survey data from guideline-era sentenced Federal drug inmates for excessive uniformity.
Abstract: Results revealed that drug quantity was the primary determinant of sentence length, with the other legally relevant offense factors significantly influencing sentences to lesser degrees and in expected ways. That drug quantity was the strongest predictor of Federal drug sentences was expected given its central role under the guidelines and mandatory minimums. This study also demonstrates that quantity-driven sentencing, coupled with culpability-based adjustments that are too limited in scope, leads to excessively uniform sentences for offenders of widely differing culpability and responsibility in the drug trade. Also found was the apparent linkage between role and both race and gender; because role is related to extralegal factors, the guideline's promotion of culpability based uniformity contributes indirectly to racial and gender disparities. Findings suggest that for Federal drug offenders, race and gender disparities are linked in part to legal sentencing rules that mandate equality along a theoretically important but undervalued sentencing factor. The finding that discretionary plea and charge bargaining practices have stronger independent effects on sentence length than many legally relevant offense factors may further compound disparate sentencing outcomes. Data were collected from 1,671 drug inmates using the 1997 Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities (SIFCF). Tables, figures, appendix, and references
Main Term(s): Drug offenders; Sentencing factors
Index Term(s): Drug abuse; Drug business; Federal drug laws; Federal sentencing guidelines; Gender; Inmate characteristics; Inmate classification; Inmate records; Pleas; Race; Race-punishment relationship; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing guidelines; Sentencing statistics; Sentencing trends
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