Article

Bail and Sentencing: Does Pretrial Detention Lead to Harsher Punishment?

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Previous research on judicial decision making has shown that legal factors, such as offense severity and prior criminal record, exert a strong impact on sentencing decisions. In addition, studies have demonstrated that demographic factors, such as race and gender, also influence sentencing decisions. This study utilized a sample of (n = 975) cases collected by New Jersey's Criminal Disposition Commission, tracked from arrest through disposition, to assess the factors that influence sentencing decisions, with a specific focus on the role of pretrial release status. The authors found that pretrial detention does not influence the decision to incarcerate; however, pretrial detention does significantly and negatively affects the length of the sentence in cases that involve a sentence of incarceration.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Beyond pretrial outcomes, detention length affects downstream case outcomes. Recent scholarship indicates that pretrial detainees are more likely to be convicted (Dobbie et al., 2018;Gupta, Hansman, & Frenchman, 2016;Leslie & Pope, 2017), have lengthier sentences (Didwania, 2018;Oleson, Lowenkamp, Cadigan, VanNostrand, & Wooldredge, 2016;Oleson, Lowenkamp, Wooldredge, VanNostrand, & Cadigan, 2017;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), and recidivate at higher rates (Gupta et al., 2016;Lowenkamp, VanNostrand, & Holsinger, 2013). Moreover, Black-White sentencing disparities have been attributed to differential rates of pretrial detention (Leslie & Pope, 2017). ...
... Furthermore, time detained carries meaning and status in the criminal justice system that can disadvantage defendants. For example, prosecutors may recognize that defendants have less leverage while detained and can offer more serious plea deals (Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), while the status of being detained inhibits a defendant's ability to seek outside counsel. ...
... We emphasize that individual-level or micro-level actions (judicial bond decisions) can and do become drivers of cumulative inequality (Haney-López, 2000), implying that officials' decisions rely on individual-level and structural-level factors. For example, detained defendants might plead guilty, citing the uncertainty of time detained (Rabinowitz, 2010), while prosecutors and judges might use pretrial detention status in itself as a meaningful decision-making tool or a shortcut/attribution for guilt (Sacks & Ackerman, 2014). If so, pretrial detention and bond assignments influence court actors' decisions by tapping focal concerns about guilt and blameworthiness. ...
Article
While prior research finds that pretrial detention has downstream consequences for racial inequalities in conviction and sentencing, it is often conceptualized as a discrete event within the criminal justice system. This study instead argues that pretrial detention operates as a racial-ethnic stratification process across time. We assess whether temporal and monetary dimensions of pretrial produce and reinforce racial-ethnic disparities in pretrial and subsequent case outcomes. Results indicate that time and money significantly stratify defendants by race and ethnicity, where bond amounts increase time detained, and that time detained in turn reinforces racial inequalities in conviction and incarceration. Indicative of cumulative understandings of inequality, our study shows how time and money in pretrial detention perpetuate inequalities in the criminal justice system.
... These disadvantages may translate into a decreased likelihood of acquittal or an inferior position in plea bargaining and at sentencing. Second, pretrial release affords a defendant the opportunity to undertake activities that build a strong mitigation case at sentencing, which can be difficult for those who are held in custody while their case is pending (Foote, 1954;Williams, 2003;Sacks and Ackerman, 2014). For example, pretrial release provides a defendant with the chance to demonstrate to their prosecutor and sentencing judge that they can resist criminal activity. ...
... Pretrial release also offers a defendant the opportunity to undertake mitigating activities such as maintaining a job and supporting dependents (Sacks and Ackerman, 2014). Such mitigation is important to sentencing judges: in a recent survey, the defendant's post-offense rehabilitative effort was one of the factors about which federal judges reported caring the most in sentencing (United States Sentencing Commission, 2010). ...
... Most of this literature addresses the risk of endogeneity in the estimating equation by controlling for observable characteristics of the defendant and his case. This research largely reports that pretrial detention is associated with longer sentences (Williams, 2003;Sacks and Ackerman, 2014;Oleson et al., 2016, Oleson et al., 2017. The work is less uniform as to whether pretrial detention influences the binary decision to incarcerate (Williams, 2003;Sacks and Ackerman, 2014;Oleson et al., 2016, Oleson et al., 2017. ...
Article
Unlike the cash-bail regimes that are prevalent in state courts, federal courts rarely use money bail as a condition of pretrial release. Nonetheless, this article presents evidence that pretrial release influences case outcomes for federal defendants. Using case data spanning 71 federal district courts, the article suggests that pretrial release reduces a defendant’s sentence and increases the probability that they will receive a sentence below the recommended sentencing range. Pretrial release also appears to lessen the probability that a defendant will receive a mandatory minimum sentence when one is charged. The analysis exploits variation in magistrate judges’ propensities to release defendants pending trial, which allows magistrate judge leniency to serve as an instrumental variable for pretrial release. The article also provides suggestive evidence that pretrial release affects case outcomes through two channels: first, by giving defendants the opportunity to present mitigating evidence at sentencing and second, by making it easier for defendants to earn a sentencing reduction by providing assistance to the government.
... Over the last two decades, in particular, several studies have aimed to unpack pretrial processes, overall use, and effects on sentencing decisions or recidivism. Many of these evaluations show that pretrial detention can increase the likelihood of receiving an incarceration sentence (e.g., Dobbie et al., 2018;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014) and increase the likelihood of receiving a longer sentence (e.g., Oleson et al., 2017;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014). For instance, an investigation on the impact of pretrial detention in Kentucky reported that detained defendants were significantly more likely than those who were released to be sentenced to jail or prison and also receive longer incarceration sentences (Lowenkamp, VanNostrand, & Holsinger, 2013). ...
... Over the last two decades, in particular, several studies have aimed to unpack pretrial processes, overall use, and effects on sentencing decisions or recidivism. Many of these evaluations show that pretrial detention can increase the likelihood of receiving an incarceration sentence (e.g., Dobbie et al., 2018;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014) and increase the likelihood of receiving a longer sentence (e.g., Oleson et al., 2017;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014). For instance, an investigation on the impact of pretrial detention in Kentucky reported that detained defendants were significantly more likely than those who were released to be sentenced to jail or prison and also receive longer incarceration sentences (Lowenkamp, VanNostrand, & Holsinger, 2013). ...
... The report also revealed that low-risk defendants held in pretrial detention were more adversely affected by the experience than medium-and high-risk defendants, respectively. The correlation between pretrial detention and sentencing outcomes has also been documented in several other United States jurisdictions, including New Jersey (Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), Pennsylvania (Gupta et al., 2016), Philadelphia and Miami (Dobbie et al., 2018), New York (Leslie & Pope, 2017), Texas (Heaton, Mayson, & Stevenson, 2017), and in the federal court system (Oleson et al., 2017;Oleson, Lowenkamp, Cadigan, VanNostrand, & Wooldredge, 2014). ...
Article
Objectives A small but growing body of scholarship suggests that defendants held in pretrial detention may be more likely to receive prison sentences. This study investigates this relationship in Oregon amidst an aim to reform pretrial processes and simultaneously curb prison reliance. Methods We employ a quasi-experimental design using propensity score modeling to assess the effects of being detained through disposition and detention dosage on sentence type and length. Using a sample of 3390 criminal defendants from nine Oregon counties, we use a doubly robust approach to modeling the effects of pretrial detention. Results Our analyses reveal that detained defendants possess odds of being sentenced to prison are twice that of those released prior to their disposition. Additionally, the longer one spends in pretrial detention the greater the likelihood receiving a sentence if incarceration. Conclusions Implications of these findings suggest that counties should explore options to reduce their application and duration of pretrial detention.
... Several explanations have been proposed, many of which follow the logic of pleas. First, not being detained affords the individual the opportunity to demonstrate that they can remain crime free and build a case for reduced sentencing (Foote, 1954;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014). Second, most closely aligned with pleas, pretrial detention may make it more difficult for individuals to meet with their court representative, to secure character witnesses, or to obtain documents that may impact the outcome of their case (Williams, 2003). ...
... Spohn and DeLone (2000) found that pretrial detention was associated with greater odds of an incarceration sentence for felony convictions in three counties from Florida, Illinois, and Missouri. Others have demonstrated that among both misdemeanor and felony cases pretrial detention was associated with a higher likelihood of a carceral sentence and increased sentence length (Donnelly & MacDonald, 2018;Phillips, 2007Phillips, , 2008Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Williams, 2003;c.f. Dobbie, Goldin, & Yang, 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Pretrial detention functions differently depending on why an individual is referred to the legal system. For those charged with misdemeanor offenses, the pretrial process is often the primary punishment, irrespective of guilt or innocence. For those charged with felonies, the primary punishment often comes from the resulting adjudicative sentence. Thus, the consequences of such detention on guilty pleas and carceral sentences could vary starkly between misdemeanors and felonies. This study draws on a unique dataset combining complete individual-level arrest and pretrial incarceration data for all adults arrested in New York City in 2016 and 2017. Using logistic regression and Cox survival models, the study identifies differential impacts of time detained pretrial on downstream consequences. Compared to people detained on felonies, people detained on misdemeanors are more likely to plead guilty, plead faster, and receive a carceral sentence. The article concludes with a discussion of policy implications of these differential pretrial justice regimes.
... This relationship may be explained through the higher likelihood to plead guilty without negotiating among detained defendants (Kutateladze et al., 2016), or it may be that detained individuals are viewed by judges and prosecutors as more dangerous (Lowenkamp et al., 2013). The influence of pretrial detention on sentencing has been documented in a multitude of jurisdictions, including New Jersey (Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), New York (Leslie & Pope, 2017), Pennsylvania (Gupta et al., 2016), Philadelphia and Miami (Dobbie et al., 2018), and Texas (Heaton et al., 2017). ...
... The final two variables in the analysis serve as proxies for defendants' socioeconomic status (SES). Following past practices (Kutateladze et al., 2016;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), we first capture SES using attorney type, which is measured as a binary variable indicating whether the defendant chose to retain a private lawyer. The second indicator of SES taps into the economic position of defendants' neighborhoods (Rehavi & Starr, 2014). ...
Article
The literature on sentencing has devoted ample consideration to how prosecutors and judges incorporate priorities such as retribution and public safety into their decision making, typically using legal and extralegal characteristics as analytic proxies. In contrast, the role of case processing efficiency in determining punishment outcomes has garnered little attention. Using recent data from a large Florida jurisdiction, we examine the influence of case screening and disposition timeliness on sentence outcomes in felony cases. We find that lengthier case processing time is highly and positively associated with punitive outcomes at sentencing. The more time prosecutors spend on a case post-filing, the more likely defendants are to receive custodial sentences and longer sentences. Case screening time, although not affecting the imposition of custodial sentences, is also positively associated with sentence length. These findings are discussed through the lens of instrumental and expressive functions of punishment.
... Is criminal justice meted out equally to those defendants of lower social status in China? Ensuring that pretrial decisions are fair is particularly important given that pretrial release versus detention has been found to critically impact decision-making in subsequent stages of criminal proceedings in both Chinese and western contexts, including the likelihood of conviction (Ares et al. 1963;Cohen and Reaves 2007;Phillips 2008;Dobbie et al. 2018), the probability of incarceration (Spohn and Beichner 2000;Steffensmeier and Demuth 2006;Freiburger and Hilinski 2013) and the length of sentencing (Williams 2003;Sacks and Ackerman 2014). ...
... Previous literature has emphasized the importance of pretrial proceedings (Sacks and Ackerman 2014), explaining that pretrial detention not only creates bias against the defendant in his or her final sentencing (Foote 1954;Oleson et al. 2014), but also precludes detained defendants from mounting an adequate defense (Dobbie et al. 2018). Nonetheless, until recently, few scholars have focused on the factors that influence the likelihood of pretrial release versus detention. ...
Article
Full-text available
The principle of equal treatment is fundamental to the fairness of any pretrial detention system, yet scholarship on this issue in the Chinese context is scarce. Based on 520 samples concerning pretrial decisions from one city court in China, this study reveals that the principle of equal treatment was not well enforced in that particular pretrial context. Our statistical analysis shows that legal factors such as the seriousness of the crime, a defendant’s prior criminal record, and joint-crime status (i.e., several perpetrators commit a crime jointly), as well as some extra-legal demographic factors significantly influence pretrial decisions on release or detention. We added new variables of domicile, joint-crime, and the type of pretrial detention within the context of the Chinese system. This theoretical focus on contextual factors may be useful for similar European studies.
... Other studies have considered how pretrial detention and length of sentence are related (Free, 2004;Goldkamp, 1980;Holmes, Daudistel, &Farrell, 1987;Oleson et al., 2014;Philips, 2012;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Tataro & Sedelmaier, 2009;Williams, 2003). Williams (2003) specifically focused on the link between pretrial detention and sentence severity, ultimately finding a positive relationship. ...
... An immigration detainer, which is an official request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to another law enforcement agency (LEA) that the LEA notify ICE prior to releasing an individual from local custody so that ICE can arrange to take over custody, often affects a noncitizen's ability to be released on bail pending criminal charges. When ICE issues a detainer, the court sometimes considers the detainer an adverse factor when determining a bail amount or whether to set bail at all. 2 Overall, noncitizens, especially undocumented immigrants, are more likely to be detained, which is associated with greater odds of conviction, incarceration, and longer prison terms (e.g., Sacks and Ackerman 2012;Spohn and Fornango 2009;Tartaro and Sedelmaier 2009;VanNostrand and Keebler 2009;Williams 2003). ...
Article
Full-text available
Research has yet to fully investigate whether the effects of citizenship and legal status are moderated by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. This is a significant oversight because negative stereotypes of young, male, black, and Hispanic offenders may intensify overall negative perceptions for noncitizen and undocumented immigrant offenders. Using data from the United States Sentencing Commission for fiscal years 2006–2008, we investigate whether the effects of citizenship and legal status on sentencing outcomes are moderated by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. The results indicate that the effects of citizenship and legal status on incarceration decision, but not sentence length decision, are moderated by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Further, young Hispanic male noncitizen and undocumented immigrant offenders are among the groups that have the greatest odds of being sentenced to prison. We discuss the implications of these findings and conclude with a discussion of future research.
... This heterogeneity, paired with the increased operational challenges jails face, raises critical questions about the adverse consequences that might stem, for individuals and the criminal justice system more broadly, from prolonged stints in pretrial detention (e.g., Banco, 2013;Caudill et al., 2014;Irwin, 1985;Klofas, 1990;Kristof, 2014;May et al., 2014). Such consequences include harms to mental health (Holman & Ziedenberg, 2006;Open Society Foundations, 2010), disparities in court sanctioning decisions (e.g., Oleson, Lowenkamp, Cadigan, VanNostrand, & Wooldredge, 2014;Rankin, 1964;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Williams, 2003), and recidivism (Freudenberg, Daniels, Crum, Perkins, & Richie, 2005;Subramanian et al., 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Scholarship suggests that individuals' experiences in pretrial detention are especially straining. Relative to state prisons, local jails have high rates of inmate and officer turnover, more limited resources, and provide fewer services. Pretrial detention also constitutes an individual's initial period of incarceration, during which social isolation and fear are experienced acutely but with fewer services in jail. This study assesses whether time spent in pretrial detention adversely affects prison social order. Findings suggest that longer terms of pretrial detention in jails are associated with a modest increase in the likelihood of misconduct later on during a stay in prison. Interaction effects indicate that more time spent in jail prior to imprisonment may be harmful for potentially at-risk inmates-specifically, younger inmates, female inmates, and inmates with mental illness. These results have implications for theory and research on prison experiences and social order and for understanding the adverse implications of pretrial detention and strains incurred in jail.
... Relativamente aos motivos legais que influenciam a sentença, a literatura internacional refere ser a história criminal do ofensor o fator agravante que produz mais efeito no aumento da medida da pena (Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Spohn & Holleran, 2000;Steffensmeier & Demuth, 2006), independentemente do crime praticado (Roberts, 1997). Considera-se que os sujeitos com registo criminal apresentam maior probabilidade de reincidir ou de se envolverem noutros crimes (Neuilly, Zgoba, Tita, & Lee, 2011;Roberts, 1997Roberts, , 2008. ...
Article
Full-text available
What is appreciated by judges in a homicide process in Portugal still has a long investigative course to pursue in the field of psychology. This exploratory research aims to analyze differences in the extent of the penalty applied according to the elements identified in the judgments. It also seeks to know if there are any differences between decisions in the first and second instances. The following results are noted: judges tend to apply higher penalties when the victims gender is female; they sentencing offenders to higher penalties when they use the right to remain silence, consubstantiating these two factors, extralegal factors. It was also found that the measure of the penalty is less when the offender shown regret. It was verified that no variable related to the characteristics of the offender was statistically significant. The results are discussed, and the participation of extralegal factors in the judicial decision-making are highlighted.
... Lawyers whose clients are jailed may face more challenges in preparing their defenses. Compared with released or bailed defendants, detained defendants also face higher probabilities of jail or prison sentences (Goldkamp, 1980;Holmes & Daudistel, 1984;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Williams, 2003). Even prior to conviction, jailed defendants risk the loss of employment and housing, disruption of families, and exacerbation of medical and psychological conditions (Allan, Allan, Giles, Drake, & Froyland, 2005;Clark, 2016;Levin, 2008;Travis, 2005;Western, 2002). ...
Article
Full-text available
Recent court decisions and state legislation have highlighted the significance of ensuring that criminal defendants are represented by counsel at their first appearances in court, where judges make critical decisions on pretrial release, bail, and detention. Yet many jurisdictions do not routinely provide counsel to indigent defendants at this stage. We hypothesize that when defendants are represented by counsel at first appearance (CAFA), they are more likely to be released on recognizance, are less likely to have high bail set, and are consequently less likely to be jailed pending disposition. We explore the impact of lawyers’ presence by comparing pretrial decisions and bail outcomes across samples of misdemeanor cases in three rural counties in upstate New York: cases with and without CAFA. We find that these counties saw shifts in decisions or outcomes. We consider the implications of these findings for future research, court practices, and public policy.
... Although much is being done to improve the situation, such as the development of various protocols to streamline the bail and remand detention process (White Paper on Remand Detention, 2014: cf 11), it remains a gross human rights violation that almost 1 in 3 prisoners in South Africa are innocent (at least in the sense of not yet having been convicted of a crime). To further compound this, research has shown that accused persons who are on remand (rather than out on bail) are more likely to plead guilty and are more likely to be given a harsh sentence when they do go on trial (Allan et al, 2005;Sacks & Ackerman, 2015). ...
... Numerous studies have found that pretrial detention negatively affects disposition and sentencing decisions (for recent reviews, see Dobbie, Goldin, & Yang, 2018;Jones, 2013;Lee, 2016;Menefee, 2017;Schlesinger, 2015;Stevenson, 2016). In particular, pretrial detainees are more likely to be prosecuted (Kellough & Wortley, 2002), convicted (Dobbie et al., 2018;Gupta, Hansman, & Frenchman, 2016;Stevenson, 2016), incarcerated (Oleson, Lowenkamp, Cadigan, VanNostrand, & Wooldredge, 2016), have lengthier sentences (Didwania, 2018;Oleson et al., 2016;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), and recidivate at higher rates (Gupta et al., 2016;Kim, Chauhan, Lu, Patten, & Smith, 2018;Ogle & Turanovic, 2016). These patterns are significant in and of themselves, but also because pretrial detention helps explain some of the racial and ethnic gap in conviction and sentencing rates, as Black defendants are more likely to experience pretrial detention and are detained for longer periods (Jones, 2013;Menefee, 2017;Schlesinger, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Although numerous quantitative studies have linked pretrial detention to increased conviction rates, the precise mechanisms linking these decisions remain unclear. Qualitative studies shed light on these processes, revealing that many detainees plead guilty quickly to escape the pains of detention, including poor confinement conditions, strained work or family relations, and “dead time.” Moreover, these pressures to plead are often exacerbated by uncertain detention length, time-sensitive “exploding” plea deals, and temporal discounting. Utilizing data on felony defendants from large urban counties between 1990 and 2004, we assess whether pretrial detention accelerates the pace of guilty pleas. Survival analyses indicate that pretrial detainees plead guilty 2.86 times faster than released defendants do, suggesting that pretrial detention is a powerful prosecutorial tool. Moreover, local resources affect case processing time in ways that are consistent with the courtroom workgroup perspective. Implications for public policies and future research are discussed.
... Likewise, the participants in our study all assumed the role of a non-detained defendant. Criminal defendants held in pre-trial detention have been found to plead guilty faster than those released prior to trial (Dobbie, Goldin & Yang, 2016;Sacks & Ackerman, 2012), and a recent vignette study found that pre-trial detention significantly increased the odds of pleading guilty for innocent mock defendants when compared to those who were nondetained (Edkins & Dervan, 2018). It would be of interest to know how loss/gain frame affects the results we report here. ...
Article
Most criminal convictions are a result of guilty pleas. Concerns have been raised that large differentials between plea and potential trial sentences can be coercive to some defendants, especially when the threat of potential trial sentence is very large. The limited research, to date, suggests that the likelihood of pleading guilty goes up with increasing size of potential trial sentence. However, existing studies have failed to separate the effects of trial sentence and plea discount; as a result, in almost all studies, large potential trial sentences are paired with large discounts and small trial sentences with small discounts, making it difficult to know how the threat of trial sentence actually affects defendant decisions. In this study, we examined the effects of guilt, magnitude of potential trial sentence (5 years and 25 years), and size of plea discount (20%, 50%, and 75%) in a fully crossed, between‐subjects design, with acceptance of plea offer as the dependent variable. We found that potential trial sentence and plea discount had independent and opposite effects on plea decisions, with discount carrying the most weight. Specifically, participants accepted more plea offers in higher relative to lower discount conditions and when potential trial sentence was 5 years rather than 25 years. The pattern of effects was similar for participants in guilty and innocent conditions. Our results run somewhat counter to conventional wisdom on how discount and potential trial sentence affect plea decisions and suggest that, given similar discounts, the likelihood for pleading guilty may be higher for defendants facing less serious charges that carry less severe sentences. We discuss the policy and research implications of these data.
... Similar to the application of risk preferences in the court, loss aversion, too, can be implicated for numerous courtroom actors across several decision points. The reported findings in the sentencing literature have revealed a strong linkage between being housed in pretrial detention and accepting a guilty plea deal (Kellough & Wortley, 2002;Lee, 2016;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014;Stevenson, 2018). This decision by a defendant to accept a guilty plea to get out of pretrial detention can be attributed at least in part to loss aversion. ...
Article
Decision‐making scholars often limit their purview to the decision to offend, whereas sentencing scholars focus on court case processing within administrative data sets. What is missing between these two camps is an incorporation of the sanctioning process into offender decision‐making and an integration of relevant findings from offender decision‐making and behavioral economics into courtroom actor decision‐making. In this article, I highlight several specific concepts from behavioral economics that can be applied to the court and interpret existing sentencing research in light of these same behavioral economic concepts. I also discuss how sentencing scholarship can be integrated into offender decision‐making research, further bridging the two domains. I conclude with discussions of policy adaptations based on current and future research expanding into these proposed areas.
... Under these conditions, misdemeanor pretrial detention can pressure misdemeanors to quickly plead guilty, foregoing further litigation (Bach, 2010;Cheng, 2013;Euvrard & Leclerc, 2017;Kellough & Wortley, 2002;Petersen, 2019). Despite research linking detention status and the timing of felony guilty pleas (Ostrom & Hanson, 1999;Sacks & Ackerman, 2014), no study has examined the effect of pretrial detention on the timing of misdemeanor guilty pleas. Similarly, much of the research on pretrial detention focuses on carceral sentences in felony cases, paying little attention to probation or CTS pleas. ...
Article
While numerous studies have examined pretrial detention and felony case outcomes, little empirical attention has been devoted to misdemeanor pretrial detention. We theorize that misdemeanants detained for a longer proportion of time will plead guilty quicker because the costs of fighting their charges in jail often outweigh the sanctions they face. Utilizing data on 165,630 felony and misdemeanor cases from Miami-Dade County, Florida, during a 4-year period (2012–2015) we assess whether the effects of pretrial detention length on the timing and content of guilty pleas differ across lower-level and upper-level courts. Survival analyses and multinomial logistic regressions indicate that misdemeanor cases overall and those involving lengthier pretrial detention are resolved faster, with most resulting in non-carceral sanctions such as credit for time served (CTS). Given that misdemeanors make-up the bulk of U.S. criminal cases, these findings reveal important insights about how pretrial detention impacts case-processing dynamics in lower courts.
... There are more of those who consider that detention in Latvia is applied too frequently, compared to ones who believe that detention should be applied more frequently (see Figure 1). 9 See the list of judgements in Bibliography section below. 10 We see that detention is perceived as being overused in Latvia in the majority of cases (77 % + 12 %) by advocates, i.e., the persons who are basically involved in providing defence, whereas 38 % of prosecutors and 44 % of investigators believe that detention is applied more rarely than it would be necessary or much too rarely. ...
... Con el fin de evitar la influencia de las características socioeconómicas en las decisiones, todos los países tienen algunas reglas sobre cuándo y cómo la prisión provisional puede ser aplicada. En los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, la naturaleza del crimen cometido (robo con violencia versus hurto, sin violencia), el riesgo de fuga (tácito cuando el sujeto no tiene un lugar fijo donde vivir) o la posibilidad de que el inculpado no comparezca en las audiencias judiciales (porque no tiene trabajo y, por lo tanto, tampoco medios para hacer frente a los gastos de traslado) son variables que influyen en la medida cautelar adoptada (Sacks, & Ackerman, 2014). Por tratarse de un país en que la mayoría de los crímenes admite el pago de fianza como forma de liberación, existe también la influencia directa del sesgo socioeconómico, que no debería intervenir en este resultado (Kurlychek, & Johnson, 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Este artículo busca comprender el proceso de toma de decisio-nes detrás de las "audiencias de custodia", el cual define si la persona presa por flagrante delito debe ser detenida o liberada hasta el juicio. A partir de 380 decisiones tomadas en Audiencias de Custodia en Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brasil), se utilizaron modelos de análisis de regresión logística binaria para el resultado de prisión preventiva. Los resultados indican que la gravedad del delito así como la presencia de antecedentes criminales influye significativamente en la decisión del juez para optar por la prisión preventiva. Los resultados son equivalentes a otras investigaciones llevadas a cabo en América Latina.
... 18 Others demonstrate that people with access to private legal representation are significantly less likely to receive pretrial detention. 19 In Latin America, research on pretrial detention patterns has focused mostly on system-level factors 20 -the transition to adversarial judicial systems and socio-economic inequality -and less so on individual cases. 21 Generally speaking, scholars find that people who are more socio-economically marginalized and who have limited access to government services and protections also face higher rates of pretrial detention, regardless of the severity of the crime. ...
... Among those that do not, disparities are not as apparent. 20 This last point suggests support for cumulative disadvantage in another sense: early disadvantage may lead to later disadvantage (Sacks and Ackerman 2014). Prior work consistently shows that pretrial detention is associated with harsher sentencing outcomes, and that race effects are mediated by detention (Rodriguez 2007;Spohn 2009Spohn , 2013Wooldredge et al. 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives To test the cumulative disadvantage hypothesis—that system-level racial and ethnic disparities accumulate from intake to final disposition—by investigating relative and absolute disparities across different pathways through the juvenile justice system. Methods Using a sample of 95,670 juvenile court referrals across 140 counties in four states, the present study employed multinomial logistic regression to examine racial and ethnic disparities across 14 possible combinations of juvenile justice outcomes (i.e., pathways), ranked from least to most punitive. We then estimated predicted probabilities and marginal effects of race and ethnicity for each pathway. Results We found limited support for the cumulative disadvantage hypothesis. Racial and ethnic disparities were greatest for the most punitive pathways, but the findings do not point to extensive evidence of cumulative disadvantage. Specifically, neither relative nor absolute disparities accumulated from least to most punitive pathways, and some of the least punitive pathways were actually more likely for minority defendants. Conclusions The results underscore the need for more careful measurement and analysis of disadvantage and disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. In particular, more attention should be paid to early outcomes such as detention, where large differences between racial and ethnic groups were observed, as well as to relative and absolute differences in processing outcomes.
Article
Scholars have shown how legal bystanders experience punishment at the hands of the state in their homes and neighborhoods, as well as jails and prisons. Other scholars have shown how bureaucratic processes, such as attending court, are punitive toward people charged with crimes. There is less information about how legal bystanders also experience punishment in courtrooms. In this article, we bridge the literatures between secondary prisonization and procedural punishment to illustrate how legal bystanders, such as family and friends of bond court defendants, experience punishment when attending bond court. We utilize courtroom ethnography of Central Bond Court in Chicago’s Cook County and interviews with family and friends of people charged with a crime to illustrate this form of punishment in three themes: extraction, destabilization, and degradation. With these findings, we argue that secondary prisonization begins not at the point of incarceration, but at the moment a loved one’s contact with the criminal legal system begins.
Article
The majority of accounts of the Second World War have described Nazi Germany as an uncontrollable monster with a highly industrialized economy. But what if it was not so? What if the European tragedy was not rooted in Germany's strength, but in its weakness? Adam Tooze has written a radically new history of the Second World War. The author achieved this by taking into account racial relations and politics, with special attention focused on economy. Understanding of the global economy played a critical role in Hitler's views. He guessed that Germany's relative poverty in 1933 was conditioned by not only the Great Depression but also limitations of its territory and natural resources. He foresaw a rise of a new globalized world where Europe would be pressed by the unbreakable power of America. There was a last chance: The European superstate led by Germany. However, the global balance of economic and military forces did not initially favor of Hitler. With the purpose of preventing the threat from the West, he sent his poorly armed troops to conquer Europe which led to the crash of his intentions. Even in the summer of 1940, a time of Germany's great triumphs, Hitler was worried about America's air and maritime domination, which he was convinced was the result of a Jewish conspiracy. As soon as the Wehrmacht came into Soviet territory, the war turned into a battle of attrition without any hope of Germany's winning. Because Hitler and others did not accept this, the Third Reich was destroyed at the cost of millions of lives. © 2018 National Research University Higher School of Economics. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Powerful political destabilization processes in recent years (such as Arab Spring) have brought attention to unemployment as a possibly important factor in political destabilization. However, the results of different studies, devoted to exploring the relationship between unemployment and instability, are highly contradictory with respect to the direction, strength, and significance of the detected correlations, especially in high income economies. This article examines the impact of unemployment on political destabilization in non-post-Communist (Western) and post-Communist (Eastern) Europe. We use the World Bank data on annual unemployment rates in 45 European countries, numerical values of instability indicators from the CNTS database from 1991-2014, and a modified version of linear regression analysis for this research. The results indicate a strong positive correlation between unemployment rate and socio-political destabilization indicators in non-post-Communist countries and a weak negative correlation in post-Communist ones. Moreover, we do not find a single positive statistically significant correlation of the unemployment rate with any of the indicators of socio-political destabilization for post-Communist countries. We see the main reason for different reactions to unemployment in the differences in the amounts, timing, and conditions for social payments. The larger the sizes of benefits and periods of payments (Western Europe), the higher the protest moods and the participation in anti-government actions. The smaller the benefits (Eastern Europe), the lower the participation in protest activities. Additional factors are constituted by the labor migration from the East to the West in Europe, which washes out "combustible material" from the East, but provokes protest activities in favor of anti-immigrant laws in the West, the "Olson-Huntington effect," and "the patience and understanding" factor of the 1990s. © 2018 National Research University Higher School of Economics. All rights reserved.
Article
The role of bail systems in the United States has been understudied within the sociology of punishment. The use of monetary bail is pervasive in the United States, contributing to a rising number of pretrial detainees and, consequently, jail populations. Since 2000, 95% of the growth in jail populations has been the result of the growing number of people held in jail pretrial. Moreover, racial and ethnic minorities account for a disproportionate number of pretrial detainees. In this review, I first summarize the empirical literature on racial and economic disparities in the use of bail and pretrial detention, arguing that race and social class are important determinants of who is ultimately detained. I also highlight the literature on the downstream outcomes associated with pretrial detention, and several recent studies which suggest that pretrial detention has a causal effect on conviction. Second, I consider how inequalities in policing and arrests, in combination with pretrial processes, lead to cumulative disadvantages. Lastly, I highlight recent debates surrounding the use of pretrial risk assessment tools and whether they serve as panacea or pariah for mitigating discrimination in criminal processing.
Article
Misdemeanor bail schedules use the seriousness of the alleged crime and the defendant’s criminal history. Court officials contend the schedules ensure that only legal factors are considered for bail. Using longitudinal data from randomly selected misdemeanor cases filed during the first quarter of 2012 in Harris County, Texas we use ordinary least squares (OLS) to test the influence of demographic characteristics of defendants and their ability to retain private representation on the process of setting the monetary amount for bail. We find evidence of implicit bias and a distinct advantage of private representation. Using logit analysis, we estimate how demographic factors and monetary bail influence the probability of pretrial release, and present point estimates of making bail by demographic type. Demographics matter but retaining private counsel increases the probability of bail by sevenfold. Policy recommendations include expanding the use of public defenders and allowing them access to clients much earlier in the process.
Article
Diversifying prosecutors’ offices and hiring more minority prosecutors have been touted as promising initiatives to address racial disparities in prosecution. However, two theoretical perspectives—social identity and internalized racism—delineate contradictory predictions on the punitiveness of minority prosecutors. The social identity perspective maintains that minority prosecutors are likely to seek better outcomes for defendants of their own race/ethnicity, whereas internalized racism proposes that minority prosecutors will be punitive to defendants of their own race/ethnicity. The present study uses the most recent data from a large urban jurisdiction to test whether the effect of shared minority identities between prosecutors and defendants on case outcomes is consistent with the social identity or internalized racism perspectives. Results suggest that minority prosecutors tend to show leniency to defendants of their own race/ethnicity; however, they are punitive toward minority defendants of a different race/ethnicity. Policy implications and directions for future research are also discussed.
Article
Pretrial reform efforts have facilitated earlier release of pretrial defendants, raising potential concerns about an increase in failure to appear (FTA) rates. Prior research has shown mixed, but generally positive, effectiveness of court notification strategies to reduce FTAs; however, to our knowledge, no study has examined this strategy for defendants released prior to charge filing. We conducted a retrospective, quasi-experimental investigation of the effectiveness of collecting contact information at the time of jail intake relative to practice as usual (i.e., court-based data collection and notification) on FTA outcomes. Participants were 527 pretrial defendants (205 intervention; 322 control) who received early release from jail between April 2018 through March 2019. Results showed jail-based notification was not associated with reduced likelihood of an FTA. However, the effect of jail-based notification on FTA was moderated by time to initial hearing, suggesting that jail-based collection of contact information may reduce FTA rates for initial hearings if the hearings are conducted in a reasonable timeframe following release. Our findings suggest a need for more research on court notification strategies overall and closer attention to the accessibility of notifications in the context of pretrial reform efforts.
Article
In the context of the criminal justice system, the minority threat hypothesis posits that a growing minority population will exacerbate racial and ethnic disparities as those in power seek to establish social control over the threatening population. Decades of research have produced mixed findings, possibly due to the varied approaches to testing this hypothesis as well as the different populations to whom it is applied. To fully explore the racial and ethnic threat hypotheses for an underexamined population—juveniles transferred to criminal court—and an underexamined outcome—pretrial detention—the present article employs a series of multilevel models to test several versions of the hypothesis. Specifically, the article distinguishes between two measures of minority threat—static and dynamic—and two types of threat effects—diffuse and targeted. Findings indicate limited support for the minority threat hypothesis in all forms. Several interpretations are offered, ranging from consideration of the need for more informed measures of threat to a possible need to modify or abandon the minority threat hypothesis in the context of juvenile and criminal justice processing.
Article
Full-text available
Research Summary Despite significant national reductions in crime during the past three decades, a comparable reduction in adult arrest rates has not occurred. In addition, scant attention has been paid to the role of the police in pretrial justice and other criminal justice reform efforts, despite their role as gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. A key inquiry that must be addressed by both academics and practitioners is whether it is possible to reduce crime and the number of arrests simultaneously. Cincinnati (Hamilton County), Ohio, provided a unique opportunity to examine this unanswered question when it closed the Queensgate Correctional Facility in 2008, thereby reducing the available jail space in the county by 36%. By relying on an interrupted time‐series analysis, our findings show that contrary to public concern, both crime and arrests were reduced in Cincinnati even after the jail closure. Specifically, the Cincinnati Police Department reported a statistically significant decrease in felony arrests, and a nonsignificant decline in misdemeanor arrests, while maintaining a continued (nonsignificant) decline in violence and property crimes. Importantly, our findings demonstrate that the previous existent downward trend in Cincinnati reported crimes was not interrupted with the loss of more than one third of the available jail space in Hamilton County. Policy Implications Policy makers and practitioners are concerned with balancing the individual rights of the accused with public safety; reducing incarceration; and promoting a more efficient, effective, and fair criminal justice system. The Cincinnati Police Department addressed these fundamental concerns by changing how officers viewed the use of arrest: as a limited commodity rather than as a standard response. By using strategies such as problem‐oriented policing, place‐based policing, and focused deterrence, Cincinnati Police were able to narrow their focus on the repeat places, problems, and groups of individuals that were driving crime within the city. The evidence suggests that the police can have a significant impact on pretrial justice and other criminal justice reform efforts through the implementation of evidence‐based policing strategies that seek to reduce crime and reduce the use of arrest simultaneously.
Article
Full-text available
This paper conducts the first analysis of sentencing disparities related to social characteristics of offenders in Russia. It uses the dataset of sentencing decisions consisting of over 5 million observations representing the entire population of defendants between 2009 and 2013. The analysis focuses on all felony cases processed by Federal district courts (2,905,608 individuals)and estimates sentencing disparities (decisions to imprison and sentence length) related to general social status characteristics of offenders as well as to finer occupational differences. The Russian Criminal Code prescribes that judges should account for the personality of the defendant and his or her family condition, but does not specify how this should be done in practice. Controlling for major legal characteristics of offence and offender as well as for judge-level variation, the analysis shows sentencing disparities connected with gender, unemployment, citizenship, local residence, marital status, and occupational status of defendants. Disparities are explained with reference to different origins. Thus, a more severe punishment of law enforcement employees for premeditated crimes corresponds to the legal rule; a harsher treatment of the unemployed and a more lenient sentencing of married defendants are interpreted with reference to legitimate concerns about repeated offending. Extralegal bias is manifested in the more severe punishment of private entrepreneurs and softer punishment of college students. Sentencing disparities are also estimated at different values of sentence length.
Chapter
In the past few decades, more scholars have begun to pay attention to the processes of pretrial detention and release. This entry focuses on the definition, history, and various categories of bail, primarily in the United States. Trends in legal decisions on bail, its various effects on different individuals, and the possible alternatives available are also discussed.
Article
Commercialization of law enforcement agencies and the corrupt prosecution of business in Russia could intensify mobilization of criminal law against entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to business conflicts. Mobilization of law starts with calling the police and continues with the following stages of criminal investigation and prosecution. The legal mobilization can be considered successful when the defendant is detained before trial. Using police data on all defendants in Russia charged with economic and corruption crimes from 2013-2014, I examine how the socio-economic status of the defendant and the type of victim are related to pretrial detention decisions. © 2018 National Research University Higher School of Economics. All rights reserved.
Article
Following Western and American trends, modern Russian society is going through a change in consumption patterns, particularly related to food products. After Russia's transition from a "deficit society" to "a society of (over)consumption," the question regarding the further direction of development arises. If Western countries are now moving toward "conscious consumption," which is ideologically based on environmental concerns, then Russia has yet to make a choice. In this regard, it is necessary to understand how Russian food management will develop in the future. For this paper, an indicator often bypassed by researchers in the study of nutrition practices was chosen-food wasting. This research is based on 22 in-depth interviews and attempts to identify the semantic contexts that keep informants from wasting food or that stimulate food waste food. According to the results of the study, it became clear that, in addition to the expected rational attitudes tied to the optimization of food management, this issue is interpreted in terms of informants' values, coupled with the social embeddedness of their practices of throwing out or saving food products, whose roots originate in the Soviet past and are transmitted from generation to generation. © 2018 National Research University Higher School of Economics. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Most of the studies examining the similarity of the appearance of products within a single product category, whose results are used as evidence in intellectual property lawsuits, are based on the interview approach. Respondents are asked to estimate a set of products from different manufacturers, either in a personal interview, online interview, or test imitating the situation of choice; they are then asked to answer a battery of questions regarding what they have seen/perceived. No matter how sophisticated the testing techniques are, the questions are focused on discovering the similarity (rather than difference) of objects treated by both the researcher and the examinee as if they are absolutely heterogeneous. Having succeeded at finding this similarity is interpreted as proof that one product is seeking to imitate the other. However, in real marketing practice, the situation where two products belonging to the same category do not inherit some common generic traits and perform as though they were originated in a symbolical and historical vacuum is nearly impossible. Most often, sociologists involved in lawsuits as expert witnesses tend to ignore (or remain ignorant of) the factor of generic/categorical similarity and use discovered "similarity" as direct evidence, contravening the basic principle of experimental work- undisputable openness and falsifiability of all results. The overarching goal of the article is to pull the sociological evidence and expertise out of the shadow of institutional games and to create the basis for scientific criticism of methodological decisions applied by sociologists. Having received an order to conduct a substantial research in this field from a large Russian consumer market player, we decomposed our own methodological cornerstones and developed a simple cognitive-oriented experimental plan that made it possible to conclude that not only is there a similarity between the compared goods, but also a certain background level of similarity within the product group. The technique is described in detail, which allows reproducing or criticizing the results obtained. The described methodical decision can be used in other social studies on similar legal cases. Thus, the criticism of the interview approach dominating Russian practice of sociological expertise in intellectual property trials is presented via the description of an alternative experimental plan. © 2018 National Research University Higher School of Economics. All rights reserved.
Article
As a country with a criminal justice system that has historically put too much emphasis on the use of custodial preventive measures, Azerbaijan has suffered from the consequences of the overuse of pre-trial detention. The management of detention centres has become a financial and logistical burden for the government, and the excessive use of pre-trial detention as a preventive measure for accused persons has also had deleterious effects on detainees and communities. Through the analysis of the secondary data, this article attempts to understand the causes of the overuse of pre-trial custody in the context where a variety of alternative options is available. The paper argues that a deviation from the guidelines on the part of the judiciary, procurators and investigators, corrupt practices in the pre-trial phase and sufficient degree of judicial independence have been the key reasons behind the over-reliance on pre-trial detention.
Article
Despite growing interest in bail and pretrial detention among both academic researchers and policymakers, systematic research on pretrial release remains limited. In this article, we examine bail and pretrial release practices across seventy-five large U.S. counties from 1990 to 2009 and look at the contextual correlates of bail regime severity. We find tremendous intra-county variation in bail practices, as well as a nationwide decline in the use of nonfinancial release and doubling of bail amounts during this period. This variation is not accounted for by differences in case composition across jurisdictions or over time. Patterns of bail practices are associated with political, socioeconomic, and demographic factors, however. Implications of these findings for future research on bail and pretrial detention are discussed.
Article
During the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev in 2008-2012 the Russian economy still remained highly regulated, so almost every economic activity could be recognized by the enforcement agencies as illegal. Under pressure of business some liberal reforms were launched in the criminal law and criminal procedure law related to economic crimes. The reforms were supposed to protect entrepreneurs from unwarranted prosecution and wrong conviction, and to make punishment less punitive. Using the data on 2 million defendants prosecuted for economic and property crimes in Russian criminal courts in 2009-2013, the paper examines how policy change affected the judicial decision making in criminal cases. Quasi-experimental design is used to test the impact of policy change on conviction and sentencing decisions. The results suggest that sentencing practices became more lenient rather due to the general changes in criminal law than the changes related specifically to economic offenders.
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine the predictive validity of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), an actuarial pretrial assessment instrument, administered to 15,931 individuals in Volusia County, Florida, between 2016 and 2017. A series of logistic regression models analyzed the influence of the PSA’s risk scores for Failure to Appear (FTA) and New Criminal Activity (NCA), as well as gender, race, and the length of time spent in pretrial custody on incidents of failure to appear and new pretrial arrest. The findings suggest that while both the FTA and NCA scales predicted pretrial failure fairly well, the variation explained by the models suggest that there is much that we do not understand about predicting pretrial failure to appear and new pretrial arrest, indicating the need for further research and refinement of pretrial assessment instruments.
Chapter
This chapter considers the different definitions of arrest and the reasons for the difficulty in creating a universally standard term. However, a singular definition is offered, which is used to guide discussions throughout this review. This chapter considers the historical use of arrest, including the evidence for the general and specific deterrent effects of police use of arrest. This chapter also discusses the many substantial direct and collateral consequences to individuals and communities. This wide range of costs emphasizes the importance of arrest, and how police can carefully consider its strategic use in order to achieve desired results.
Article
Purpose Defendants can be detained preventively or held in pretrial detention on an unaffordable bail. While prior research concludes that detained defendants face more severe case outcomes than released defendants, it is essential to unpack the differences between defendants denied bail and held on bail. As the latter group would not be detained if they were of more affluent means, they should not face the same cumulative disadvantages of pretrial detention as defendants deemed dangerous and held preventively. Methods Using a series of regressions and path models, this paper examines the direct and indirect effects of pretrial detention type on the case processing of over 40,000 detained defendants. Results Compared to defendants held on bail, defendants denied bail are less likely to plead guilty and be sentenced to jail but more likely to be sentenced to prison and receive longer sentences. Both groups face a similar likelihood of conviction and charge reduction. Indirect effects via adjudication decisions further contribute to sentencing disparity. Conclusions Both defendants denied bail and held on bail experience cumulative disadvantage, albeit in different ways. Findings contribute to the growing concerns surrounding cash bail in the United States.
Article
The pretrial detention decision has critical implications for a defendant’s employment opportunities, family ties, likelihood of conviction, and length of prison sentence. While prior researchers have assessed the disparities that exist in the bail decision based on defendant and case characteristics, little systematic empirical attention has been paid to the effects of the pretrial detention judge on decisions at this stage of criminal case proceedings. Here, we focus specifically on judge race and sex, exploring not only the unconditional effects of judge sex and race but also whether the effects of these judge characteristics at the bail decision are conditioned on the sex and race of the defendant. Using newly collected pretrial detention data from 22 federal district courts from 2003 to 2013, we empirically examine the effects of judge and defendant race and sex on whether defendants are released on their own recognizance before trial or, instead, are given a more punitive pretrial outcome. Our results indicate important judge and defendant-based differences in bail setting leniency provided to defendants including that Black judges are more likely to grant pretrial release without hefty conditions to white defendants than are white judges. We also find that female judges are more likely to detain or require monetary bail for male defendants and less likely to do so for female defendants relative to male judges.
Article
Pretrial release programs are relatively common and service a broad range of offenders. Despite their widespread use, there is little research examining the impacts of pretrial release programming on offender recidivism after pretrial. This study analyzed data from 286 individuals who participated in an Eastern Pennsylvania county’s adult probation and parole pretrial supervision program between 2014 and 2016. Relevant predictors of pretrial failure as well as predicting arrest 36 months after the pretrial program were examined. Results suggested that criminal history and education level are the main predictors of pretrial failure. Those with more education and with no criminal history are less likely to fail supervised pretrial release. Unexpectedly, those with higher education were more likely to be arrested 36 months after pretrial. Younger individuals were slightly more likely to be arrested, and those who failed to complete the pretrial program were 2.5 times more likely to be arrested after pretrial. Overall, these findings provide support for the potential role of pretrial release programming in reducing recidivism beyond the pretrial phase. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Article
This article furthers the discussion on bail through an analysis of the conditions under which this measure is used in Mexico, a country which has recently reformed its penal system (2008–2016) by introducing new procedural rules, which seek to reduce the use of pretrial detention. The study is based on a statistical-descriptive examination of 1,537 judicial cases in which judges chose to impose either pretrial detention or bail. Our findings indicate that, obtaining bail, rather than pretrial detention, is related to both the specific nature of the crime as well as the circumstances of the criminal investigation. Furthermore, our data confirm that pretrial decisions can affect the entire course of a case. In our sample, defendants who were granted bail were more likely to receive non-condemnatory sentences than those who awaited trial in prison.
Article
This evaluation examines the impact of a pretrial risk assessment and supervised release program on pretrial release rates, judicial bail determinations, and failure to appear (FTA) rates among non-violent felony defendants in Orange County, CA. The results indicate that program implementation was not associated with a significant increase in pretrial release rates. However, defendants who received supervised release under the program were significantly less likely to FTA than similarly situated defendants who were released on cash bail. The results therefore suggest that pending bail reform measures in California and elsewhere, which replace cash bail with risk assessment screening and non-monetary supervised release, can be implemented without sacrificing appearances in court.
Article
Research Summary We assess the predictive validity and differential prediction by race of one pretrial risk assessment, the Public Safety Assessment (PSA). The PSA was developed with support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) to reduce the burden placed on vulnerable populations at the front end of the criminal justice system. The growing and disparate use of incarceration is one of the most pressing social issues facing the United States. The implementation of risk assessments has provided fuel for both sides of the reform debate with proponents arguing that the use of these assessments offers a policy mechanism to alleviate populations and bias. Risk assessment critics, however, argue that the use of the assessments exacerbates bias and does not improve decision‐making. By examining a statewide data set from Kentucky (N = 164,597), we found the PSA to have predictive validity measures in line with what are generally accepted within the criminal justice field. The differences we found indicate the PSA scores for failure to appear (FTA) are moderated by race, but these differences do not lead to disparate impact. Policy Implications We point to data limitations and the need for localized risk assessment studies, and we emphasize that risk assessments are decision‐making tools that require ongoing refinement. Risk assessment developers, opponents, and proponents would do better to focus on the reality of risk assessments as probabilistic models. The results of these assessments cannot predict with certainty, and they are not inherently biased. Rather, criminologists and policy makers need to understand the uncertainty that comes with any predictive model.
Article
This article conducts the first analysis of sentencing disparities related to social characteristics of offenders in Russia. It uses a data set of sentencing decisions consisting of over 5 million observations representing the entire population of defendants between 2009 and 2013. The analysis focuses on all felony cases processed by federal district courts (2,905,608 individuals) and estimates sentencing disparities (decisions to imprison and sentence length) related to general social status characteristics of offenders as well as to finer occupational differences. The Russian Criminal Code prescribes that judges should account for the personality of the defendant and his or her family condition, but does not specify how this should be done in practice. Controlling for major legal characteristics of offense and offender, as well as for judge-level variation, the analysis shows sentencing disparities connected with gender, unemployment, citizenship, local residence, marital status, and occupational status of defendants. Disparities are explained with reference to different origins. Thus, a more severe punishment of law enforcement employees for premeditated crimes corresponds to the legal rule; a harsher treatment of the unemployed and a more lenient sentencing of married defendants are interpreted with reference to legitimate concerns about repeated offending. Extralegal bias is manifested in the more severe punishment of private entrepreneurs and softer punishment of college students. Sentencing disparities are also estimated at different values of sentence length.
Article
Full-text available
Using federal court data collected by the U.S. Sentencing Commission for the years 1993-1996, this study examines racial/ethnic differences-white versus black versus white-Hispanic versus black-Hispanic-in sentencing outcomes and criteria under the federal sentencing guidelines. Regression analyses of incarceration and term-length decisions reveal considerable judicial consistency in the use of sentencing criteria for all defendants; however, important racial/ethnic disparities in sentencing emerge. Consistent with theoretical hypotheses, the authors find that ethnicity has a small to moderate effect on sentencing outcomes that favors white defendants and penalizes Hispanic defendants; black defendants are in an intermediate position. Hispanic drug offenders are most at risk of receiving the harshest penalties, and their harsher treatment is most pronounced in prosecutor-controlled guidelines departure cases. These findings highlight both a classic organizational tension noted by Weber and a fundamental dilemma in policy efforts to structure sentencing processes (formal rationality) while allowing for judicial and prosecutorial discretion (substantive rationality). The findings also broaden our view of the continuing significance of race in American society-as a matter confronting not only blacks but also Hispanics and perhaps other ethnic groups as well.
Article
Full-text available
Although the possible effect of race on sentencing decisions is a much-studied question, even recent studies suffer from methodological problems. This paper attempts to correct these problems by using a large number of cases and a large number of offenses, by dividing the sentencing decision into two separate decisions, by using an appropriate scale to measure sentence severity, by including controls for relevant legal and extra-legal factors, and by using multivariate analysis. Our major findings are that race does not have a direct effect on sentence severity, but that blacks are more likely than whites to be incarcerated.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this report is to evaluate the argument that, with changes in sex roles and the contemporary women's movement, sex differences in the handling of criminal defendants are diminishing. After a review of the empirical evidence, five factors are suggested as helping to account for the apparently consistent finding of preferential treatment (though of small magnitude) of female defendants across most offense categories. These five factors are chivalry, naiveté, practicality, defendants' perceived future criminality, and the perceived danger associated with defendants. The diminution of sex differences in sentencing outcomes must be a result of changes in sentencing practices. In examining the selected factors in the context of sentencing practices, it is argued that (1) the evidence does not show chivalry to be an important determinant of sentencing decisions; rather, the factors of perceived danger and future criminality appear more significant; (2) even if chivalry were a significant determinant, the evidence suggests that court officials remain as chivalrous as ever; and (3) Supreme Court decisions, increasing professionalism of court officials, and bureaucratization of the courts may have reduced sentencing disparities by sex, as they appear to have done with respect to race and social class. It is concluded that changing sex role definitions and the contemporary women's movement have had little impact on sentencing outcomes of either male or female defendants.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we argue that the meaning of race in criminal justice decision making will vary depending on other offender and offense characteristics, and that differences in treatment within races may therefore be as large as differences between races. We find that, among adult drug offenders from Washington State, those white offenders who most closely resemble the stereotype of a dangerous drug offender receive significantly harsher treatment than other white offending groups, while among black offenders, it is the defendants who least resemble a dangerous drug offender who receive substantially different—in this case, less punitive—treatment than other black offenders. That is, the exceptions are made for the most serious and the least serious offenders. We discuss the implications of these findings.
Article
Full-text available
This study uses data on the processing of felony defendants in large urban courts to analyze racial and ethnic disparities in pretrial processing. There are three major findings. First, racial disparity is most notable during the decision to deny bail and for defendants charged with violent crimes. Second, ethnic disparity is most notable during the decision to grant a non‐financial release and for defendants charged with drug crimes. Third, when there is disparity in the treatment of Black and Latino defendants with similar legal characteristics, Latinos always receive the less beneficial decisions. These findings are consistent with the theoretical perspective offered, which suggests that stereotypes influence criminal processing when their specific content is made salient by either the concerns relevant to a particular processing decision or the crime type of a defendant’s primary charge.
Article
Full-text available
This study analyzes pretrial release data on a sample of felony defendants representing the nation's 75 most populated counties for 1990—1996 to assess the main and interactive effects of gender and race-ethnicity on both pretrial release decisions and outcomes. We find that both gender and race-ethnicity have moderately strong main effects on whether the defendant secures pretrial release, net of controls for legal factors like prior record and offense conduct. Female defendants are more likely to receive pretrial release than their male counterparts, while Hispanic and black defendants are more likely to be detained than similarly situated white defendants. Most notably, we find that compared to all other gender-racial/ethnic defendant groups, white females are the most likely to receive pretrial release. In contrast, Hispanic males receive the most disadvantaging decisions throughout the pretrial release process and are the group most likely to be detained. A major factor that explains this discrepancy in outcomes is the inability of many Hispanics and blacks to post bail to gain their release.
Article
Full-text available
Pretrial release is clearly an important issue for defendants, since the results of previous research has suggested that pretrial release or detention can have an effect on later processing decisions. Additionally, race and ethnicity have been identified as factors in processing decisions in American courts. The current study is an analysis of a sample of felony filings in two Florida counties during 1998. Two dependent variables are considered: type of sentence (incarceration or another sentence) and the actual length of incarceration. The purpose of the analysis is to detect whether pretrial release remains a significant predictor of sentence type and length after controlling for legal and extra‐legal variables. Specifically, we are interested in whether pretrial release has a differential impact on Hispanic and non‐white defendants compared to whites. Defendants held pending trial faced significant disadvantages compared to their released peers in all models, but race and ethnicity did not appear to be universally contributing factors. Significant differences between the counties suggest that smaller‐scale studies have the potential to uncover local and regional variations within state criminal justice systems that multi‐state studies fail to capture.
Article
Full-text available
Guidelines sentencing data from Pennsylvania for the years 1985–1987 are analyzed to assess the influence of gender on judges' imprisonment decisions. These data provide detailed information on offense severity and prior record, permit statistical controls for other variables thought to affect imprisonment decisions, cover a fairly comprehensive list of common-law offenses (with adequate sample size), and contain judges' dispositional-departure reasons for sentences outside the guidelines schema. The data—analyzed with additive and interactive models–indicate that gender (net of other factors) has a small effect on the likelihood of imprisonment toward lesser jailing of female defendants but has a negligible effect on the length-of-imprisonment decision. Observations and interview responses from selected judges help to clarify the ways in which judges' sentencing practices are gender linked. Together, the statistical and the qualitative data suggest that the sentencing practices of judges are driven by two main concerns, blameworthiness (e.g., as indicated by prior record, type of involvement, remorse) and practicality (e.g., as indicated by child-care responsibility, pregnancy, emotional or physical problems, availability of adequate jail space). Based on our findings, we suspect that when men and women appear in (contemporary) criminal court in similar circumstances and are charged with similar offenses, they receive similar treatment. A major question from a policy perspective is, when gender disparities in sentence outcomes do arise, are the disparities warranted or unwarranted?
Article
Full-text available
Studies of sentencing in jurisdictions with sentencing guidelines have generally failed to specify adequately the effects of offense seriousness and criminal history—the principal factors that, by law, should determine sentencing decisions. As a result, the explanatory power of those models is seriously limited, and regression coefficients representing both legal and extralegal factors may be biased. We present an alternative approach to specify more precisely the effects of legally relevant factors on sentencing outcomes and test the approach using felony sentencing data from Washington State. We find that controlling for the presumptive sentence substantially improves the fit and explanatory power of models predicting sentencing decisions, and that the estimated effects of extralegal factors, specifically sex and race, reduce considerably. The findings have both substantive and methodological implications.
Article
Full-text available
This study uses data on Pennsylvania sentencing practices to compare the sentence outcomes of white, black, and Hispanic defendants. Besides the overall more lenient treatment of white defendants, our main finding is that Hispanic defendants are the defendant subgroup most at risk to receive the harshest penalty. This pattern is held across all comparisons—i.e., for both the in/out and term-length decisions and for both drug and nondrug cases. These findings are consistent with the “focal concerns” framework on sentencing and with hypotheses drawn from the writings on prejudice and inter group hostility suggesting that the specific social and historical context facing Hispanic Americans will exacerbate perceptions of their cultural dissimilarity and the “threat” they pose.
Article
Full-text available
Prior theory and research on sentencing oversimplify the role of race, gender and age in judicial decision making. In this article we present a “focal concerns” theory of judicial decision making to frame hypotheses regarding the effects on sentencing of these social statuses, both singly and in combination. Analyzing statewide sentencing outcomes in Pennsylvania for 1989–1992, we find that, net of controls: (1) young black males are sentenced more harshly than any other group, (2) race is most influential in the sentencing of younger rather than older males, (3) the influence of offender's age on sentencing is greater among males than females, and (4) the main effects of race, gender, and age are more modest compared to the very large differences in sentencing outcomes across certain age-race-gender combinations. These findings demonstrate the importance of considering the joint effects of race, gender, and age on sentencing, and of using interactive rather than additive models.
Article
Full-text available
The last several years have seen a marked rise in state and federal pretrial detention rates. There has been little scholarly commentary or even analysis of whether this increased detention is reducing pretrial crime. Though in the 1960s to 1980s several studies discussed whether it was possible to predict which defendants would commit crimes while released pretrial, the disagreements were tabled and there has largely been silence on these issues since then. With recent improvements in empirical methods, we can more clearly analyze data to determine what factors are reliable predictors of who will commit pretrial crime. As a result we can also determine whether more defendants can safely be released pretrial without increasing crime rates.This article uses the largest dataset of pretrial defendants in the U.S. to determine what factors, if any, are relevant in predicting “dangerousness” pretrial and what percentage of defendants can be released safely before trial. Prior work in this area disagrees as to whether the current charge or past convictions are relevant as predictors of future crimes, whether flight risk is linked to pretrial violence, and whether judges can accurately predict which defendants are dangerous. Indeed, most previous work relies on small scale local studies. Our analysis, in contrast, relies on the most current national data for over 100,000 defendants over a fifteen year period from a representative sample of urban counties in the United States. Our analysis suggests several important conclusions including that 25% more defendants may be able to be released pretrial while decreasing crime levels and not increasing danger to the public.
Article
Full-text available
Criminal sentencing is, along with arresting and prosecuting, among the most important of formal social control decisions. In this study we use hierarchical modeling to test hypotheses about contextual level influences and cross level interaction effects on local court decisions. Most of the explanatory “action,” our analysis shows, is at the individual case level in criminal sentencing. We also find evidence that local contextual features–such as court organizational culture, court caseload pressure, and racial and ethnic composition–affect sentencing outcomes, either directly or in interaction with individual factors. We conclude by discussing theoretical implications of our findings, and how our study points out some dilemmas among civil rights, local autonomy and organizational realities of criminal courts.
Book
The study of decisions in the criminal justice process provides a useful focus for the examination of many fundamental aspects of criminal jus­ tice. These decisions are not always highly visible. They are made, or­ dinarily, within wide areas of discretion. The aims of the decisions are not always clear, and, indeed, the principal objectives of these decisions are often the subject of much debate. Usually they are not guided by explicit decision policies. Often the participants are unable to verbalize the basis for the selection of decision alternatives. Adequate information for the decisions is usually unavailable. Rarely can the decisions be demonstrated to be rational. By a rationaldecision we mean "that decision among those possible for the decisionmaker which, in the light of the information available, maximizes the probability of the achievement of the purpose of the decisionmaker in that specific and particular case" (Wilkins, 1974a: 70; also 1969). This definition, which stems from statistical decision theory, points to three fundamental characteristics of decisions. First, it is as­ sumed that a choice of possible decisions (or, more precisely, of possible alternatives) is available. If only one choice is possible, there is no de­ cision problem, and the question of rationality does not arise. Usually, of course, there will be a choice, even if the alternative is to decide not to decide-a choice that, of course, often has profound consequences.
Book
Ideal for non-math majors, Advanced and Multivariate Statistical Methods teaches students to interpret, present, and write up results for each statistical technique without overemphasizing advanced math. This highly applied approach covers the why, what, when and how of advanced and multivariate statistics in a way that is neither too technical nor too mathematical. Students also learn how to compute each technique using SPSS software. New to the Sixth Edition Instructor ancillaries are now available with the sixth edition. All SPSS directions and screenshots have been updated to Version 23 of the software. Student learning objectives have been added as a means for students to target their learning and for instructors to focus their instruction. Key words are reviewed and reinforced in the end of chapter material to ensure that students understand the vocabulary of advanced and multivariate statistics.
Article
Studies of sentencing in jurisdictions with sentencing guidelines have generally failed to specify adequately the effects of offense seriousness and criminal history - the principal factors that, by law, should determine sentencing decisions. As a result, the explanatory power of those models is seriously limited, and regression coefficients representing both legal and extralegal factors may be biased. We present an alternative approach to specify more precisely the effects of legally relevant factors on sentencing outcomes and test the approach using felony sentencing data from Washington State. We find that controlling for the presumptive sentence substantially improves the fit and explanatory power of models predicting sentencing decisions, and that the estimated effects of extralegal factors, specifically sex and race, reduce considerably. The findings have both substantive and methodological implications.
Article
What techniques can social scientists use when an outcome variable for a sample is not representative of the population for whom they would like to generalize the results? This book provides an introduction to regression models for such data including censored, sample-selected and truncated data.
Article
Studies of juvenile court processing are reviewed and found generally to contradict a discrimination argument Nevertheless, enough evidence of disparity exists to justify a search for contingencies under which discrimination is more or less likely to occur. The literature yields five contingent hypotheses which we test using data from 31 counties in Florida. The results suggest that differential sanctioning is not a pervasive phenomenon but rather that it is contingent on whether the individual is a member of an aggregate which poses a threat to elites. But it appears that the relevant threats are not strictly political but are mostly of a symbolic, social-psychological nature wherein white adults react to resented youthful traits often stereotypically associated with nonwhites. The results suggest that theoretical development about differential sanctioning will require deemphasis on the ability of individuals to resist power and a strengthened focus on the contingencies under which power is wielded.
Article
The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 mandated major restructuring of federal sentencing through specific sentencing guidelines. New sentencing guidelines developed by the United States Sentencing Commission and adopted in 1987 explicitly linked sentencing to "relevant conduct"-offense characteristics-and sought to abolish unwarranted sentence disparity. The guidelines substantially reduced judicial discretion and resulted in a criminalization and sentencing process that is largely prosecutor controlled. The author has generated hypotheses that relate defendant characteristics, guilty pleas, and departures from sentencing guidelines to sentence outcomes under the federal sentencing guidelines. She first examined the variables influencing sentence severity for the drug offenders who were sentenced in 1991-92. She then explored the interaction effects by estimating the tobit equation separately for three groups-black, white, and Hispanic defendants-to discover whether defendant's ethnicity conditions the effect of other defendant characteristics, guidelines-defined legally relevant variables, guilty pleas, and departures on sentence severity. Her analysis reveals that disparity in federal sentencing of drug offenders is linked not only to offense-related variables, as structured by the guidelines, but also to defendant characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, educational level, and noncitizenship, which under the guidelines are specified as legally irrelevant.
Article
A life course perspective on crime indicates that incarceration can disrupt key life transitions. Life course analysis of occupations finds that earnings mobility depends on stable employment in career jobs. These two lines of research thus suggest that incarceration reduces ex-inmates' access to the steady jobs that usually produce earnings growth among young men. Consistent with this argument, evidence for slow wage growth among ex-inmates is provided by analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Because incarceration is so prevalent-one-quarter of black non-college males in the survey were interviewed between 1979 and 1998 while in prison or jail-the effect of imprisonment on individual wages also increases aggregate race and ethnic wage inequality.
Article
America's largest cities in 1900 were struggling under the effects of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration. Increasing numbers of immigrants presented political, economic, and cultural threats to the hegemony of native-born middle- and upper-class Americans. As a result, nonimmigrant Americans put pressure on the police to clamp down on urban crime, especially crime related to undesirable aspects of the "foreign" community's lifestyle like the consumption of alcohol. We test conflict theory's threat hypothesis in large American cities in 1900 by relating the percent foreign-born and the arrest rate for drunkenness under numerous controls suggested by criminological research. Because the urban politics of the period revolved around battles between city bosses and reformers, we incorporate political variables into the analysis. The results support a political interpretation of the aggressiveness with which urban police made arrests for drunkenness.
Article
Caleb Foote's scholarship targeted pretrial processes: police misconduct, bail, own-recognizance release. He was concerned about poor people and how court interventions made their lives worse, and his groundbreaking research sparked reforms such as non-cash bail. This paper reviews statistics on what has happened in the decades since ROR programs were widely implemented, then summarizes a case study of bail guidelines reform in Philadelphia. Concluding that the system has slid back into a heavy reliance on cash bail and has failed to improve release rates for poor and minority defendants, the author suggests that disillusioned reformers return to Foote's main points: the reason to change bail practices is to make the system more equitable for poor people, and the inputs at the earliest stages of criminal prosecution determine the outputs of convictions and sentences. Any concern for reducing disparities should thus start at the earliest stages of prosecution, not the last ones. Finally, the paper reviews new research undertaken by the New Jersey Criminal Disposition Commission, raising the question of whether pretrial diversion programs widen the control net or are a promising way to reduce inequities. Caleb Foote taught his students many things, and he taught them well. His criminal procedure class was basically a political science course. He looked at the questions of whether and how to apply the criminal sanction from the viewpoint of interest-group politics; he was primarily concerned that everyone should understand that the Constitution was designed to protect unpopular minorities (in the Madisonian sense) from being crushed. To him, examples of unpopular minorities were vagrants (today called "the homeless"), poor people, people of color, political dissidents – but most comprehensively, those finding themselves on the receiving end of the nasty business of criminal prosecution.
Article
The racial threat perspective is tested using data from empirical studies of bail and pretrial release. Of the thirty empirical studies investigating race and bail/pretrial release, eighteen identified specific cities and counties, thereby permitting an examination of the effect of racial composition on the race and bail/pretrial release nexus. Results suggest a possible modification of the racial threat perspective as typically conceptualized. Other factors affecting this relationship are briefly discussed.
Article
Information on a sample of felony cases in Columbus, Ohio is used to estimate the effect of counsel (appointed or retained) on the relative severity of criminal sentences. Applying two multivariate statistical techniques, both the direct and indirect effects of counsel are isolated. Generally, the results reveal few systematic differences in sentence severity between types of counsel and provide further confirmatory evidence for the proposition that case and defendant-related variables—not the identity of counsel—are primarily repsonsible for the severity of criminal sentences.
Article
Based on an integration of work on uncertainty avoidance in decision making with research on causal attribution in punishment, the author hypothesizes that judges attempt to manage uncertainty by developing “patterned responses” that are the product of an attribution process involving assessments of the offender's likelihood of committing future crime. Washington, D. C, felony sentencing data generated by the Prosecutor's Management and Information System (PROMIS) were used to test this integrated theoretical model. Support for the theoretical integration is provided by the evidence of the effects of prior record, defendant's race, use of a weapon, pretrial release, and the interaction between defendant's race and bail outcome on sentence severity. Contrary to common suppositions, information on defendant-victim relationship and victim provocation was unrelated to sentence severity. Further research should examine judges' attempt to reduce uncertainty by relying on stereotypes and attributions linked to the likelihood of recidivism.
Article
A number of studies have addressed the respective influences of such legal factors as offense seriousness, and such extralegal factors as race, on imprisonment decisions. One factor that is not easily classified as either legal or extralegal—pretrial detention—has not received as much attention as the "typical" legal and extralegal variables, although some researchers feel that pretrial detention plays a pivotal role in imprisonment decisions. This exploratory article assesses the relationship between pretrial detention and the decision to incarcerate in adult felony cases in a Florida county, controlling for various legal and extralegal factors. Results indicate that those defendants who had been subject to pretrial detention were more likely to be incarcerated, and to receive longer sentences if they were incarcerated, than defendants who had been released pending case disposition.
Article
Few studies examine homicide clearances despite trends across many jurisdictions that show a decrease in homicides cleared each year. This study addresses that research gap using Chicago homicide data from 1991 to 2002 to identify predictive factors in homicide clearances. Across five logistic regression models we found that victim and incident characteristics were significant predictors of homicide clearances, although the number and types of significant predictors were varied across the analyses. Moreover, we found differences in the factors that significantly predicted clearances for three specific homicide circumstances: expressive, instrumental, and gang-related.
Article
The effect of legal and extralegal factors on felony sentence outcomes has been widely studied, typically using a total incarceration variable that defines sentence outcomes as incarceration or probation. Research conducted by Holleran and Spohn has called this into question, revealing that factors that affected jail sentences were different than those that affected prison sentences and demonstrating that the conclusions one would draw regarding the influence of extralegal offender characteristics such as race and ethnicity differ depending on the way in which sentence was defined. The authors replicate and extend the research conducted by Holleran and Spohn, using several operational definitions of the decision to incarcerate or not, focusing on sentence outcomes for offenders convicted of felonies in a jurisdiction with an indeterminate sentencing system. Results provide compelling evidence in support of Holleran and Spohn.
Article
This study calls into question the use of the total incarceration response variable incorporated into sentencing studies over the past 30 years. Specifically, using data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing (PCS), it argues–and reveals–that prison and jail represent two distinct institutions, and that the judge's decision on disposition should take that factor into account. It recommends that researchers should therefore reconsider use of the total incarceration variable, which combines prison and jail into a single response category.
Article
This paper builds on Kalven and Zeisel's “liberation hypothesis” and explores the possibility that racial discrimination 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 defendant, 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 support for the liberation hypothesis and highlight the importance of using an interactive rather than an additive model in sentencing research.
Article
This study explores the relationship between the offender's employment status and sentence severity. We use data on felony offenders sentenced in 1993 in Chicago and in Kansas City to test a number of hypotheses concerning the effect of unemployment on the likelihood of incarceration and the length of the prison sentence. Our analyses reveal a complex relationship between unemployment and sentence severity: Unemployment had a direct effect on the decision to incarcerate or not only in Kansas City, and directly affected sentence length only in Chicago. In addition, unemployment interacted with other offender characteristics. The offender's employment status had no effect on either measure of sentence severity in either jurisdiction if the offender was white. In Chicago, unemployment increased the odds of incarceration for young males and for young Hispanic males, and increased the length of the sentence for males, young males, and black males. In Kansas City, unemployment had no effect on sentence length for any subgroups of the population but influenced the decision to incarcerate if the offender was a black male. We suggest that our results support the proposition that certain types of unemployed offenders are perceived as “social dynamite” (Spitzer 1975) in need of formal social control.
Article
In 1989 and 1990 there was much media and political concern about use of the drug “ice,” or smokable crystal methamphetamine, which was believed to pose a social threat potentially as great as that of crack cocaine. This concern was not sustained, however, and references to the topic diminished sharply within a few months. The incident thus offers a valuable opportunity to trace the history of a drug panic from its origins to its eclipse. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of domestic political divisions, especially in Hawaii, in citing the panic. It is suggested that this incident illustrates both the manner in which local problems come to be projected on the national political arena and the limitations inherent in such a process. The paper explores the rhetorical devices used to create a sense of impending menace around the supposed danger, and the reasons why such an apparently plausible danger failed to gain more public attention or credence.
Many researchers have examined the factors that affect guilty pleas, but have typically utilized a dichotomous dependent variable, measuring either a guilty plea or trial. However, the majority of cases are resolved though a guilty plea, making the inevitable question one of timing. The current study investigates the factors that affect disposition timing and, in particular, considers the impact of pretrial detention on guilty pleas. Using a sample of (n = 975) cases from New Jersey’s Criminal Disposition Commission, tracked from inception through disposition, to assess the factors that influence the timing of guilty pleas, our research finds that defendants held in pretrial detention will plead guilty faster than those defendants released into the community prior to trial
Article
Dramatic increases in the number of women incarcerated in state and federal prisons have led some researchers to conclude that differential sentencing of female offenders is a thing of the past. This study uses data on offenders convicted of felonies in Chicago, Miami, and Kansas City to address this issue. The authors find no evidence to support this “gender neutrality” hypothesis. In all three jurisdictions, women face significantly lower odds of incarceration than do men. The results also reveal that the effect of race is conditioned by gender but the effect of gender, with only one exception, is not conditioned by race; harsher treatment of racial minorities is confined to men but more lenient treatment of women is found for both racial minorities and Whites.
Article
A recent study of sentencing decisions in Pennsylvania (Steffensmeier et al., 1998) identified significant interrelationships among race, gender, age, and sentence severity. The authors of this study found that each of the three offender characteristics had significant direct effects on sentence outcomes and that the characteristics interacted to produce substantially harsher sentences for one category of offenders—young black males. This study responds to Steffensmeier et al.'s (1998:789) call for “further research analyzing how race effects may be mediated by other factors.” We replicate their research approach, examining the intersections of the effects of race, gender, and age on sentence outcomes. We extend their analysis in three ways: We examine sentence outcomes in three large urban jurisdictions; we include Hispanics as well as blacks and test for interactions between ethnicity, age, and gender; and we test for interactions between race/ethnicity, gender, and employment status. Our results are generally—although not entirely—consistent with the results of the Pennsylvania study. Although none of the offender characteristics affects the length of the prison sentence, each has a significant direct effect on the likelihood of incarceration in at least one of the jurisdictions. More importantly, the four offender characteristics interact to produce harsher sentences for certain types of offenders. Young black and Hispanic males face greater odds of incarceration than middle-aged white males, and unemployed black and Hispanic males are substantially more likely to be sentenced to prison than employed white males. Thus, our results suggest that offenders with constellations of characteristics other than “young black male” pay a punishment penalty.
Article
In this paper, we provide empirical evidence from a study of Canadian bail hearings that suggests that, unlike new penology predictions, the disciplinary focus of the courts has not been totally displaced by risk reasoning. Our analysis reveals that individualized, moral assessments of accused persons have a strong influence on remand decisions. Accused persons who receive a negative personality assessment by the police are much more likely to be detained than those who receive neutral assessments. Our analysis also reveals that these subjective character evaluations help explain racial differences in the likelihood of pre-trial detention. Furthermore, rather than 'managing risk', our findings reveal that the detention of accused persons is a rather important resource that the prosecution uses to encourage (or coerce) guilty pleas from accused persons. Those accused who are not held in pre-trial custody, by contrast, are much more likely to have all of their charges withdrawn by the prosecution. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Article
The present study uses data on the processing of felony defendants in large urban courts to examine Hispanic, black, and white differences at the pretrial release stage. The major finding is that Hispanic defendants are more likely to be detained than white and black defendants. And, racial/ethnic differences are most pronounced in drug cases. In fact, Hispanic defendants suffer a triple burden at the pretrial release stage as they are the group most likely to be required to pay bail to gain release, the group that receives the highest bail amounts, and the group least able to pay bail. These findings are consistent with a focal concerns perspective of criminal case processing that suggests Hispanics as a newly immigrated group are especially prone to harsher treatment in the criminal case process.
Article
The possible race differences in judicial sentencing have been of long-standing interest to social scientists. We argue, however, that prior research on the issue either uses crude measures of offense severity and prior record, or, if more precise measures are employed, is limited to one or a few offenses. The Pennsylvania guidelines sentencing data used in this report allow a more rigorous test of the racial hypothesis since they include detailed information on these two most important legal variables, on other variables for statistical controls, and on a fairly comprehensive list of common law offenses, with an adequate sample size. The data—analyzed with both additive and interaction models—reveal that race (net of other factors) has a small effect on judicial decision-making as it pertains to the likelihood of incarceration but has negligible effect on the length of imprisonment decision. The small race effect at the in/out decision is accounted for by dispositional departures in sentencing that favor white defendants. Offense severity is overwhelmingly the major factor influencing judicial sentencing, followed at some distance by prior record. At the end of the report, we discuss the implications of our findings for research on sentencing and for policies aimed at reducing the high incarceration rate of black males.