- Researched by: Chad M. Topaz, Christian Michael Smith, Nicholas Goldrosen, Maria-Veronica Ciocanel, Rebecca Santorella, Shilad Sen
- Publication Date: July 29, 2021
- Read the full study here
Studying 380,000 criminal cases in federal district courts from 2006 to 2019, we replicate previous findings that aggregate, conditional racial disparities in sentence lengths are large. We further show that estimated racial disparities in sentencing vary considerably across judges. Results suggest that judges assign white defendants sentences that are conditionally 13% shorter than Black defendants’ and 19% shorter than Hispanic defendants’, on average. A judge who is one standard deviation above average in terms of estimated Black-white disparity gives Black defendants sentences that are conditionally 39% longer than white defendants’, compared to the average disparity of 13%. A judge who is one standard deviation above average in terms of estimated Hispanic-white disparity gives Hispanic defendants sentences that are conditionally 49% longer than white defendants’, compared to the average disparity of 19%.