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Racial and Sex Disparities in Prison Sentences: The Effect of District-Level Judicial Demographics

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  • Max Schanzenbach
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    Abstract

    This paper estimates the effect of judicial characteristics (political affiliation, race, and sex) on federal criminal sentencing using variation in judicial characteristics at the district level. The results suggest that judges’ race and sex have little influence on prison sentences in general but do affect racial and sex disparities. For serious offenses, increasing the proportion of female judges in a district decreases the sex disparity. I interpret this as evidence of a paternalistic bias among male judges that favors female offenders. The racial composition of the bench has mixed effects that are open to different interpretations. Finally, there is little evidence that the political composition of the district affects sentencing disparities.

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    File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?id=doi:10.1086/425597
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 1 (01)
    Pages: 57-92

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:34:y:2005:p:57-92

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    Cited by:
    1. Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," NBER Working Papers 13206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sarnikar, Supriya & Sorensen, Todd A. & Oaxaca, Ronald L., 2007. "Do You Receive a Lighter Prison Sentence Because You Are a Woman? An Economic Analysis of Federal Criminal Sentencing Guidelines," IZA Discussion Papers 2870, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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