Back to top

Sentencing disparity

“The goal of this project was to examine the effectiveness of three distinct strategies (revision of a detention index, a procedural change in review of detention decisions, and a monitoring system of detained youth) created by Maricopa County Juvenile Probation to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) and the number of youth subject to detention in the County” (p. i). It appears that a combination of the three is the most effective way to reduce sentencing disparity and juvenile detention populations. In order to succeed, agencies must: clearly spell out what they intend to do and let all the staff know; continually evaluate the agency’s efforts and report those results to the staff; and be willing to change the process when it is needed.

An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact and the Detention Population: Final Report Cover

“During the past six years, Texas overhauled its juvenile corrections system, enacting a series of reforms that led to a significant reduction in the state-level committed population and yielded millions of dollars in cost savings while protecting public safety” (p. 1). Sections of this brief cover: problem; reforms—authorizing legislation, redirected resources, incentive funding, standardized tools, and streamlines system; and impact—commitments down, costs reduced $50 million per year, and public safety maintained.

Bending the Curve: Juvenile Corrections Reform in Texas cover

For girls, as with boys, the failure to receive a high school diploma often places individuals on a pathway to low-wage work, unemployment, and incarceration. The imposition of harsh disciplinary policies in public schools is a well-known risk factor for stunted educational opportunities for Black and Latino boys. Such punishments also negatively affect their female counterparts, as do other conditions in zero-tolerance schools. Yet, the existing research, data, and public policy debates often fail to address the degree to which girls face risks that are both similar to and different from those faced by boys. This silence about at-risk girls is multidimensional and cross-institutional. The risks that Black and other girls of color confront rarely receive the full attention of researchers, advocates, policy makers, and funders. As a result, many educators, activists, and community members remain underinformed about the consequences of punitive school policies on girls as well as the distinctly gendered dynamics of zero-tolerance environments that limit their educational achievements … The research reflected in this report was designed to elevate the voices of Black girls and other girls of color affected by punitive policies so as to deepen our understanding of the ways they experience inhospitable educational environments and to produce recommendations designed to eliminate those inequities (p. 10-11).

Sections of this report following an executive summary include: the racialized and gendered contours of the crisis; the hidden toll of race on Black girls—what the data suggest—the substantial risk factors of race and ethnicity, racialized risk of punishment, racial disparity, and disproportionate discipline rates, expulsion rates, and suspension rates; what girls know—nine themes from focus group and stakeholder interviews; what can be done--recommendations for addressing the needs of girls of color; and conclusion. This website provides access to the full report, the executive summary, and a "Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter.

"Social science research has time and again come to the robust conclusion that exposure to the criminal justice system has profound and intergenerational negative effects on communities that experience disproportionate incarceration rates. It is imperative that we are able to measure the extent to which the criminal justice system disparately impacts our communities." You can find this information easily by referring to this briefing. It does an excellent job in synthesizing the information that is known about the disproportion of incarcerated minorities in the United States at the state level. In addition to incarceration rates by race/ethnicity, the following statistics (if available) are provided for each state and the U.S. federal prison system for the period 1978-2012: the degree to which Whites are underrepresented in the particular state's prisons and jails; Hispanics are overrepresented; Blacks are overrepresented; American Indians are overrepresented; Native Hawaiians are overrepresented.

Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census: State-by-State Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity Cover

“The conference assembled a distinguished group of criminal justice experts … to identify critical points of intervention and concrete, practical reforms to redress racial disproportionality at every stage of criminal proceedings. Rather than belabor what has gone wrong or has not worked, participants shared innovative disparity-reduction practices from around the country, as well as new ideas for reforming policies that produce mass incarceration (p. 7). Ten sections are contained in this publication: conference mission and overview; what the scope of racial disparities are; town hall meeting; charging, plea bargains, and diversion; pretrial incarceration; jury selection; search, seizure, and identification issues; sentencing and community corrections—a tale of two systems; community justice; and recommendations for moving forward.

Criminal Justice Cover

This report looks at the significant overrepresentation of minority youth among juvenile status offenders. Sections of this publication includes: issue background; the need to focus on non-delinquent youth; addressing disproportionality among status offenders; new data on status offenses and disproportionality; and implications for juvenile justice reform.

Disproportionate Minority Contact and Status Offenses Cover

"Despite positive trends regarding juvenile interactions with the justice system, racial disparities remain as a persistent problem. African-American youth comprise 17 percent of the population, but comprise 31 percent of all arrested youth. This briefing paper explains how disproportionate minority contact (DMC) with the juvenile justice system is measured and takes a close look at drug offenses, property crimes, and status offenses. Racial disparities weaken the credibility of a justice system that purports to treat everyone equally." Sections cover: what "contact" is; the extent of the problem; measuring DMC using the Relative Rate Index (RRI); encounters with the justice system—disproportionate arrest rates for status offenders, property crime arrests, and drug offenses; how policy choices worsen disparities—school discipline as a law enforcement issue, valid court order (VCO), and geography and population density; disproportionate minority confinement—RRI for pre- and post-adjudication detention and placement; and eliminating disproportionate minority contact by reauthorizing and strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System Cover

"Racial and ethnic disparity is pervasive in the American criminal justice system. This is particularly stark for blacks, who despite constituting just 13 percent of the US population, account for 30 percent of adult probationers, 37 percent of jail inmates, 38 percent of prisoners, and 40 percent of parolees. Such disparities have broad consequences, from impacts on the health and functioning of minority communities to perceptions of the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. There are more probationers than parolees, prisoners, and jail inmates combined. Probation practice and outcomes thus affect the lives of more adults than any other criminal justice sanction. Further, probation supervision represents an important fork in the road for justice-involved individuals, with failure on probation setting a path for more severe sanctioning, particularly incarceration. Disparities in probation revocations could then contribute to disparities in incarceration. Yet, few studies examine racial and ethnic disparities at this decision point. This brief discusses Urban’s study examining the degree of disparity in probation revocation outcomes and the drivers of that disparity" (p. 1). Sections include: key findings—revocation rates for Black probationers are the greatest with risk assessment scores and criminal history being major factors in revocation; findings regarding probation stakeholder perceptions of bias in the criminal justice system, higher revocation rates for Black probationers, disparity observed when controlling for nonracial and non-ethical characteristics, and contributors to disparity; discussion and policy implications; and ten policy recommendations such as committing to monitor disparity, investing in cultural competency training (CCT), utilizing alternatives to revocation, and reexamining risk assessments and their impact on decisionmaking.

Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation Cover

"There are few areas of American society where racial disparities are as profound and as troubling as in the criminal justice system. In fact, racial perceptions of crime and race influenced policy development have been intimately tied to the development of mass incarceration. Yet there is growing evidence that the high rate of minority imprisonment is excessive for public safety goals and damaging for family and community structures in high incarceration neighborhoods. This briefing paper provides an overview of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a framework for developing and implementing remedies for these disparities." Six sections comprise this publication: incorporating racial equality as a goal in criminal justice reform; overview of racial equality in the criminal justice system; causes of racial disparity—socioeconomic inequality, handicapping of low-income people by resource allocation decisions, disparate racial impact of ostensibly race-neutral policies, and implicit racial bias among criminal justice professionals; best practices for reducing racial disparity; implementation strategies and metrics for success; and conclusion.

Incorporating Racial Equality Into Criminal Justice Reform Cover

The Community Corrections Collaborative Network (CCCN) is a network comprised of the leading associations representing 90,000-plus probation, parole, pretrial, and treatment professionals around the country, including the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), the Association of Paroling Authorities International (APAI), the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association (FPPOA), the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA), the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA), and the National Association of Probation Executives (NAPE).

This "Myths & Facts" package includes a one-page list of myths and facts along with a research-based supporting document to help dispel three specific myths regarding the use of risk and need assessments within the criminal justice system. A description and relevant research to dispel each myth is provided. Our network believes that risk and need assessments currently provide the most accurate, objective prediction of the risk to recidivate. While risk and need assessments do not predict with perfect accuracy, they guide practitioners in the field towards the most accurate and equitable decisions available for safely managing justice-involved individuals.

Myths & Facts Cover

Pages

Subscribe to Sentencing disparity