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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98978 Find in a Library
Title: Court and Sentencing of Black Offenders (From Criminal Justice System and Blacks, P 167-193, 1984, Daniel Georges-Abeyie, ed. - See NCJ-98968)
Author(s): R L Austin
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
New York, NY 10014
Sale Source: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
435 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This survey of the judicial process examines sentencing determinations, the purpose of sentencing, factors affecting sentencing variations, and means to achieve an equitable system of justice.
Abstract: Sentencing decisions are made by legislators, prosecutors, judges, parole boards, defense attorneys, and juries. Prosecutors, or district attorneys, have the primary determining role insofar as they usually have the legal authority to drop charges, determine charges, reduce charges, and recommend leniency before an offender reaches court. The purposes of sentences may be classified as retributive or utilitarian. Retributive purposes include the infliction of a vengeance, while utilitarian purposes include rehabilitation and incapacitation. Factors which have been found to affect sentence severity include characteristics of the offense, prior record, and offender characteristics, including social class and race. While class and race are unlikely to be acknowledged by court officials as a factor affecting sentencing, there is substantial empirical evidence to indicate that racial and class biases are operative in sentencing decisions and result in disparities in sentencing even when seriousness of the offense and prior record are controlled. In addition to empirical evidence, blatant discrimination has been revealed in a number of highly publicized miscarriages of justice involving black and white interracial offenses. While recommendations for determinate sentencing could reduce sentencing disparities, they also usually involve harsher penalities. As blacks are disproportionally represented in prison populations, such sentences will have a disproportionate impact on the black community. Included are 60 references.
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Court research; Determinate Sentencing; Discretionary decisions; Judicial process; Literature reviews; Minorities; Racial discrimination; Sentence processing; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
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