Monday, January 31, 2005
The Sentencing Project just published a review of the literature on racial dispaority in sentencing. Among the findings:
· Young, black and Latino males (especially if unemployed) are subject to particularly harsh sentencing compared to other offender populations;
· Black and Latino defendants are disadvantaged compared to whites with regard to legal-process related factors such as the “trial penalty,” sentence reductions for substantial assistance, criminal history, pretrial detention, and type of attorney;
· Black defendants convicted of harming white victims suffer harsher penalties than blacks who commit crimes against other blacks or white defendants who harm whites;
· Black and Latino defendants tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated white defendants for less serious crimes, especially drug and property crimes.
Studies that examine death-penalty cases have generally found that:
· In the vast majority of cases, if the murder victim is white, the defendant is more likely to receive a death sentence;
· In a few jurisdictions, notably the federal system, minority defendants (especially blacks) are more likely to receive a death sentence.