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Report: Federal Sentencing Differences Often Hinge on Decisions About Probation Versus Inprisonment

The Sentencing Law and Policy blog summarized new research the U.S. Sentencing Commission that examined demographic differences in federal sentencing,. As  summarized on an USSC webpage, the report’s key findings were that sentencing differences continued. Broken down by gender, Black males received sentences 13.4 percent longer, and Hispanic males received sentences 11.2 percent longer, than White males. Hispanic females received sentences 27.8 percent longer than White females, while “Other” race females received sentences 10.0 percent shorter.

Those most marked differences in sentencing could “largely” be attributed decisions about probation versus incarceration, the commission found. Black males were 23.4 percent less likely, and Hispanic males were 26.6 percent less likely, to receive a probationary sentence compared to White males. Similar trends were observed among females, with Black and Hispanic females less likely to receive a probation sentence than White females (11.2% percent less likely and 29.7% less likely, respectively). Across all analyses, females received sentences that were 29.2 shorter than males.

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