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JUDGES' UNEQUAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO EXTRALEGAL DISPARITIES IN IMPRISONMENT

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How do judges in the same court system contribute differentially to extralegal disparities in sentencing? Analyses of felony sentencing in an urban Ohio trial court uncovered two distinct but equal-sized groups of judges that differed in the magnitude of extralegal correlates to imprisonment. Within the group of judges reflecting substantive extralegal correlates to prison sentences, demographic correlates (based on defendants' race, sex, age, and the interaction between them) were more pervasive across judges relative to social demographic correlates (based on education, residence length, and means of financial support). The directions of significant relationships involving a defendant's race, age, and means of support also were inconsistent across judges. These interjudge differences suggest that analyses of cases pooled across judges at either the jurisdiction or the state level might over- or understate the relevance of particular attribution theories of sentencing disparities.
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Keywords: judges; prison sentences; sentencing; sentencing disparities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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