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Intro: "A new academic study of 58,000 federal criminal cases has found significant disparities in sentencing for blacks and whites arrested for the same crimes. The research led to the conclusion that African-Americans' jail time was almost 60% longer than white sentences."

Researchers worked to determine why incarceration rates for African-Americans are disproportionately high. (photo: Dan Bannister/Getty Images)
Researchers worked to determine why incarceration rates for African-Americans are disproportionately high. (photo: Dan Bannister/Getty Images)



Blacks Given Longer Sentences Than Whites for Same Crimes

By David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov

11 February 12

 

new academic study of 58,000 federal criminal cases has found significant disparities in sentencing for blacks and whites arrested for the same crimes. The research led to the conclusion that African-Americans' jail time was almost 60% longer than white sentences.

According to M. Marit Rehavi of the University of British Columbia and Sonja B. Starr, who teaches criminal law at the University of Michigan Law School, the racial disparities can be explained “in a single prosecutorial decision: whether to file a charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence….Black men were on average more than twice as likely to face a mandatory minimum charge as white men were, holding arrest offense as well as age and location constant.” Prosecutors are about twice as likely to impose mandatory minimums on black defendants as on white defendants.

In federal cases, black defendants faced average sentences of 60 months, while the average for white defendants was only 38 months.

The report concludes that sentence disparities “can be almost completely explained by three factors: the original arrest offense, the defendant's criminal history, and the prosecutor's initial choice of charges.”

To Learn More:

A Good Reason to Do away with Mandatory Minimums? (by Sonja Starr, Nieman Watchdog)

Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Charging and Its Sentencing Consequences (by M. Marit Rehavi and Sonja B. Starr, University of Michigan Law & Econ, Empirical Legal Studies Center Paper)

Racial Inequalities in Conviction and Sentencing (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

 

Comments   

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+5 # ckosuda 2012-02-11 10:52
let's not forget the impact that having a "public defender" puts into the mix - too many clients, not enough time to really work the case/ if the case is worked at all , a culture of "deals" / talking the defendant into a guilty plea for the sake of convenience / or the political climate within the courtroom that the public defender has to deal with day in/day out -
etc.,
as opposed to some rich kid waltzing in with a high-priced attorney paid for by the money daddy managed to steal from his clients / and no charges are even brought -
 
 
+7 # ThinkRodan 2012-02-11 11:02
This is a WIDE OPEN SECRET,because the BLACK PRISON POPULATION provides JOBS for an UNDERCLASS & UNDEREDUCATED WHITE MAJORITY! This solves part of the EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM! All of this happens while the WHITE UPPERCLASS are FREE to CONTROL THE ECONOMY and make laws which favor their retention of POWER!
 
 
+3 # X Dane 2012-02-11 14:48
Think Rodan. I didn't think of THAT reason, but you certainly make sense.
I have long felt that the discimination against non white citizens is a CRIME, the cards are stacked against them from the very beginning.

Many being born into poor crime-ridden areas have slim chances of getting out of the povrty/crime cycle, and when they do end up in front of a judge their sentece is much harsher than one for a white person.

Too many public defenders are overworked and probably feel the defendant is guilty, so why rock the boat. I have heard of a number of cases where the public defender fell asleep in the court room.
The court system is a mess. So many judges need to be confirmed, but the republicans are blocking them. What else is new. It works for THEM. To hell with the poor.
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-02-11 11:32
Hell, I didn't need an "Academic" study to know this -and you can chuck American Indians into the mix but even more so!
Ask Leonard Peltier.
I'd rather these "Academic" bods spent some study time trying to figure out what to do about this -but that would take some REAL work in the REAL world, including the ugly world of "Corrections".
 
 
+2 # barbaratodish 2012-02-11 12:52
I was banned from TWO (2!) criminal justice associations because my presentations on "crime committing us" made academic bureaucrats uncomfortable!T o hear more: www.powerplayradiorantz.com
Scroll down to Humanity 102-103 "listen to Barbara Todish here."
 

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