Revisiting the Minority Threat Perspective: Examining the Main and Interactive Effects of Segregation on Sentencing Severity

Laura Beckman, Xia Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on the minority threat perspective, this study assesses the main and interactive effects of racial/ethnic segregation on the incarceration and sentence length decisions. Using the State Court Processing Statistics in combination with other data, we employ multilevel models to examine (1) whether racial/ethnic segregation affects sentencing severity, (2) whether racial/ethnic segregation moderates the effects of racial/ethnic composition, and (3) whether racial/ethnic segregation reduces racial/ethnic disparity in punitive sentencing. Both racial and ethnic segregation displayed mitigating effects on punishment severity. In particular, racial segregation reduced the effect of racial composition on probabilities of receiving a prison term, and ethnic segregation reduced the effect of ethnic composition on probabilities of receiving a jail sentence. Our results suggest that the minority threat perspective and its theoretical accounts of segregation can be partially applied to sentencing outcomes in state courts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJustice Quarterly
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Sentencing
  • ethnic segregation
  • minority threat
  • racial segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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