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Who is Punished More Harshly in Federal Court? The Interaction of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age, and Employment Status in the Sentencing of Drug Offenders

Who is Punished More Harshly in Federal Court? The Interaction of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age,... Recent studies of sentencing under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines suggest that unwarranted disparity has been reduced, but not eliminated. A number of studies conclude that legally irrelevant variables, including race/ethnicity and gender, continue to affect the sentences imposed on federal offenders. Research conducted at the state level also reveals that offender characteristics interact to create a punishment penalty for young, unemployed black and Hispanic male offenders. Our study builds on this research. Using data on drug offenders sentenced in three U.S. District Courts, we test for direct, indirect, and interactive effects of race and ethnicity on sentence severity. We find that gender, age, and employment status, but not race/ethnicity, have direct effects on sentencing, and that the effects of gender and employment status are conditioned by race/ethnicity. On the other hand, our results provide no support for our hypotheses that young black and Hispanic males and unemployed black and Hispanic males would pay a punishment penalty. We also find that the offender's gender and employment status have effects only in cases sentenced outside the guidelines. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Justice Research and Policy SAGE

Who is Punished More Harshly in Federal Court? The Interaction of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age, and Employment Status in the Sentencing of Drug Offenders

Justice Research and Policy , Volume 8 (2): 32 – Dec 1, 2006

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References (49)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2006 SAGE Publications
ISSN
1525-1071
eISSN
1942-8022
DOI
10.3818/JRP.8.2.2006.25
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Recent studies of sentencing under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines suggest that unwarranted disparity has been reduced, but not eliminated. A number of studies conclude that legally irrelevant variables, including race/ethnicity and gender, continue to affect the sentences imposed on federal offenders. Research conducted at the state level also reveals that offender characteristics interact to create a punishment penalty for young, unemployed black and Hispanic male offenders. Our study builds on this research. Using data on drug offenders sentenced in three U.S. District Courts, we test for direct, indirect, and interactive effects of race and ethnicity on sentence severity. We find that gender, age, and employment status, but not race/ethnicity, have direct effects on sentencing, and that the effects of gender and employment status are conditioned by race/ethnicity. On the other hand, our results provide no support for our hypotheses that young black and Hispanic males and unemployed black and Hispanic males would pay a punishment penalty. We also find that the offender's gender and employment status have effects only in cases sentenced outside the guidelines.

Journal

Justice Research and PolicySAGE

Published: Dec 1, 2006

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