Study: More Blacks Imprisoned Under Sentencing Guidelines

Analysis of the recently released 15 year study of federal sentencing guidelines in beginning to stream in. One major finding: Since the guidelines were enacted in 1987, the number of blacks imprisoned has increased sharply and they receive harsher sentences than white prisoners:

The 15-year study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for federal judges,...found that while sentencing has become "more certain and predictable," disparities still exist among races and regions of the country.

The average sentence for all prisoners has almost doubled to 50 months under the guidelines.

The percentage of whites in prison dropped sharply from nearly 60 percent in 1984 to about 35 percent in 2002....In addition, the gap between sentences for blacks and whites widened. While blacks and whites received an average sentence of slightly more than two years in 1984, blacks stay in prison for about six years, compared with about four years for whites. The report attributed the disparity in part to harsher mandatory minimum sentences that Congress imposed for drug-related crimes, such as cocaine possession. In 2002, 81 percent of these offenders were black.

Sentences are longer in the South than in the Northeast and West. For links to the report, see our earlier post here.

< Holiday Blogging | Thanksgiving Blogging of Years Past >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: