Race and disparities in sentencing: A test of the liberation hypothesis

Cassia Spohn, Jerry Cederblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper builds on Kalven and Zeisel's "liberation hypothesis" and explores the possibility that racial discrlmlnation in sentencing is confined to less serious cases. We examined the sentences imposed on defendants convicted of violent felonies in Detroit. We found that defendant's race had a direct effect only on the decision to incarcerate but had indirect effects on both incarceration and sentence length. Further analysis revealed an interaction between the race of the d~fendant, the seriousness of the case, and the harshness of the sentence. Using a number of measures of the seriousness of the case, we found that race had a significant effect on incarceration only in less serious cases. Our findings provide dramatic sup* port for the liberation hypothesis and highlight the importance of using an interactive rather than an additive model in sentencing research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-326
Number of pages22
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

liberation
interaction
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

Cite this

Race and disparities in sentencing : A test of the liberation hypothesis. / Spohn, Cassia; Cederblom, Jerry.

In: Justice Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1991, p. 305-326.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{dc4ba8dbe33941cab7a6b13f2fb7b5aa,
title = "Race and disparities in sentencing: A test of the liberation hypothesis",
abstract = "This paper builds on Kalven and Zeisel's {"}liberation hypothesis{"} and explores the possibility that racial discrlmlnation in sentencing is confined to less serious cases. We examined the sentences imposed on defendants convicted of violent felonies in Detroit. We found that defendant's race had a direct effect only on the decision to incarcerate but had indirect effects on both incarceration and sentence length. Further analysis revealed an interaction between the race of the d~fendant, the seriousness of the case, and the harshness of the sentence. Using a number of measures of the seriousness of the case, we found that race had a significant effect on incarceration only in less serious cases. Our findings provide dramatic sup* port for the liberation hypothesis and highlight the importance of using an interactive rather than an additive model in sentencing research.",
author = "Cassia Spohn and Jerry Cederblom",
year = "1991",
doi = "10.1080/07418829100091071",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "8",
pages = "305--326",
journal = "Justice Quarterly",
issn = "0741-8825",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Race and disparities in sentencing

T2 - A test of the liberation hypothesis

AU - Spohn, Cassia

AU - Cederblom, Jerry

PY - 1991

Y1 - 1991

N2 - This paper builds on Kalven and Zeisel's "liberation hypothesis" and explores the possibility that racial discrlmlnation in sentencing is confined to less serious cases. We examined the sentences imposed on defendants convicted of violent felonies in Detroit. We found that defendant's race had a direct effect only on the decision to incarcerate but had indirect effects on both incarceration and sentence length. Further analysis revealed an interaction between the race of the d~fendant, the seriousness of the case, and the harshness of the sentence. Using a number of measures of the seriousness of the case, we found that race had a significant effect on incarceration only in less serious cases. Our findings provide dramatic sup* port for the liberation hypothesis and highlight the importance of using an interactive rather than an additive model in sentencing research.

AB - This paper builds on Kalven and Zeisel's "liberation hypothesis" and explores the possibility that racial discrlmlnation in sentencing is confined to less serious cases. We examined the sentences imposed on defendants convicted of violent felonies in Detroit. We found that defendant's race had a direct effect only on the decision to incarcerate but had indirect effects on both incarceration and sentence length. Further analysis revealed an interaction between the race of the d~fendant, the seriousness of the case, and the harshness of the sentence. Using a number of measures of the seriousness of the case, we found that race had a significant effect on incarceration only in less serious cases. Our findings provide dramatic sup* port for the liberation hypothesis and highlight the importance of using an interactive rather than an additive model in sentencing research.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=38649120929&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=38649120929&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/07418829100091071

DO - 10.1080/07418829100091071

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:38649120929

VL - 8

SP - 305

EP - 326

JO - Justice Quarterly

JF - Justice Quarterly

SN - 0741-8825

IS - 3

ER -