September 15, 2009
Interesting empirical study of sentencing in NevadaI just came across this paper on SSRN, titled "Felony Sentencing in Rural and Urban Courts: Comparing Formal Legal and Substantive Political Models in the West." Here is the abstract:
This study explored two models of sentencing in urban and rural districts in Nevada (2007 felony sentencing data, N=10,873). It was hypothesized that sentence lengths and dispositions would differ between rural and urban districts. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that urban districts would follow a formal legal model – in which only legal variables (crime features, criminal history) act as predictors of sentencing outcomes, whereas rural districts would follow a substantive political model – in which extralegal factors (age, sex, race / ethnicity, etc.) also predict sentencing outcomes. The authors found that urban and rural districts in Nevada conformed to a substantive political model of sentencing (including both legal and extralegal factors), though legal factors were often the strongest predictors of sentencing outcomes.
I have long thought that a lot more could be learned from the careful study of modern state sentencing systems, and this helpful paper confirms my desire to see more researchers analyzing more state sentencing patterns.
September 15, 2009 at 07:47 AM | Permalink
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The write up is a bit disappointing for such an excellent data set.
Also, while I agree that state sentencing receives insufficient attention relative to federal sentencing, in my view the real black hole in terms of research effort is misdemeanor sentencing, where judges have much more vast discretion and there is almost no systemic study.
Posted by: ohwilleke | Sep 17, 2009 2:01:25 PM
Wow! Good read, simply masterpiece ah!
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