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Cover of: Racial Disparities in Criminal Sentencing Vary Considerably across Federal Judges
Nicholas Goldrosen, Christian Michael Smith, Maria-Veronica Ciocanel, Rebecca Santorella, Shilad Sen, Shawn Bushway, Chad M. Topaz

Racial Disparities in Criminal Sentencing Vary Considerably across Federal Judges

Section: Conference Article 4
Volume 179 (2023) / Issue 1, pp. 92-113 (22)
Published 31.01.2023
DOI 10.1628/jite-2023-0005
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Summary
Substantial race-based disparities exist in federal criminal sentencing. We analyze 380,000 recent (2006–2019) sentences in the JUSTFAIR database and show that these disparities are large and vary considerably across judges. Judges assign White defendants sentences 13% shorter than Black defendants' and 19% shorter than Hispanic defendants' sentences, on average, conditional on case characteristics and district. Judges one standard deviation above average in their estimated Black-White disparity give Black defendants sentences 39%conditionally longer than White defendants' sentences, vis-à-vis average disparity of 13%. Judges one standard deviation above average in their estimated Hispanic-White disparity give Hispanic defendants sentences 49% conditionally longer than White defendants' sentences, compared to the average disparity of 19%.