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Christine Martin

In: Courts, Law, and Justice

Chapter 17: Sentencing Disparities

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Sentencing Disparities
Sentencing disparities

Disparity and discrimination in sentencing is often used interchangeably. A definition of disparity is that it is a difference in treatment or outcome that does not necessarily involve discrimination. However, there is no question that racial disparity exists in sentencing. For example, a 2004 report on felony sentences in state courts by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicated that offenders convicted of a felony were most likely to receive incarceration sentences.

Men accounted for 82 percent of those convicted of a felony and whites, who made up 82 percent of the adult U.S. population, comprised only 59 percent of felony convictions. In contrast, African Americans, who were only 12 percent of the U.S. population, comprised 38 percent of felony convictions. A ...

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