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Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Assessments of Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Federal Sentencing

Race, Ethnicity and Law

ISBN: 978-1-78714-604-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-603-7

ISSN: 1521-6136

Publication date: 25 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter presents four theories that hypothesize race/ethnicity disparities in sentence outcomes. Empirical studies assessing the relationship between defendant’s race/ethnicity and sentence severity are discussed.

Methodology/approach

I focus on federal sentencing in terms of support or non-support of the theoretical perspectives.

Findings

Sentence disparity linked to defendant’s race/ethnicity are observed as net main effects, as a component in joint-conditioning effects with other extralegal defendant characteristics, and as a variable that conditions the effect of process-related mechanism of discretion, and legally relevant case characteristics, and as indirect effects.

Originality/value

Theories share substantial conceptual overlap in specifying the relationship between defendant’s race/ethnicity and predictions of the effect of defendant’s race/ethnicity on sentence severity.

Keywords

Citation

Albonetti, C.A. (2017), "Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Assessments of Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Federal Sentencing", Race, Ethnicity and Law (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 95-114. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1521-613620170000022009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited