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NCJ Number: 91772 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Making Sense of Sentencing - A Review and Critique of Sentencing Research (From Research on Sentencing - The Search for Reform, P 1-54, 1983, Alfred Blumstein et al, ed. - See NCJ-91771)
Author(s): J Hagan; K Bumiller
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 54
Sponsoring Agency: National Academies Press
Washington, DC 20001
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
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United States of America

National Academies Press
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NCJRS Photocopy Services
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United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Sentencing studies done over the past decade collectively indicate that the relationship between race and sentencing outcome, with certain exceptions, is relatively weak. Future research should involve individual-processual analyses that also consider structural and contextual variations.
Abstract: Sentencing research exhibits both definitional and methodological weaknesses in distinguishing between legal and extralegal variables, ranking sentence severity, sample selection, and measurement techniques. This paper reviews 51 studies on race and sentencing to demonstrate problems involved in reaching cumulative conclusions from existing literature. It groups these studies according to whether the analysts presented data defore 1969 or from 1969 and after, included controls for the severity or type of offense and presence of prior criminal record, and concluded with a finding of racial discrimination. These research projects showed an increasing tendency to consider legitimized influences of offense seriousness and prior record in their design, marking the beginning of an individual-processual approach. The inclusion of these variables along with bail status, defense counsel, and plea mediate the influence of race and socioeconomic status. This trend has not produced fewer findings of racial discrimination, but has identified many structural contexts where discrimination exists, such as rural settings and crimes that are interracial or highly politicized. However, the strength of the reported relationships between race and sentencing is often not large since these variables are at opposite ends of the causal chain. The individual-processual approach to the sentencing issue is important because it highlights ways in which mediating variables like employment and bail status can be incorporated in a disadvantaging way into the sentencing process. The article provides a chart of the 51 studies and approximately 90 references.
Index Term(s): Racial discrimination; Research methods; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
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