SAGE Journal Articles

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Petersen, A. M. (2017). Complicating race: Afrocentric facial feature bias and prison sentencing in Oregon. Race & Justice7, 59–86.

Much research on race and sentencing utilizes broad racial categories to estimate the effect of race on sentencing outcomes; however, more nuanced conceptualizations of race have begun to appear in the literature. Specifically, a small but growing body of literature has assessed the role of discrimination based on Black stereotypicality of facial features, or Afrocentric facial feature bias, on sentencing outcomes for convicted males. By using Department of Corrections data from Black females and males incarcerated in Oregon, paired with experimentally derived facial feature ratings, this study extends past research by conducting both sex and race analyses in a new locale. These analyses are theoretically contextualized in feature-trait stereotyping and the focal concerns perspective--two previously unrelated literatures. The regression of sentence length on Afrocentric facial features, other extralegal factors, and legally relevant factors suggests that Afrocentric facial features do not explain sentence length for females. Afrocentricity predicts sentence length for males in the univariate and extralegal models, but significance is diminished with the inclusion of legally relevant variables. In interactional models, the sentence lengths of Black females and males do not vary in relation to one another either before or after the inclusion of legal factors. These findings are discussed in light of sentencing mechanisms in the state of Oregon, possible stereotype bias at earlier stages in the court process, and the racialized nature of offense histories and seriousness ratings.

Gibson, C. L., Walker, S., Jennings, W. G., & Miller, J. M. (2010). The impact of traffic stops on calling the police for help. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 21(2)139–159.

Using data from the Police–Public Contact Survey (PPCS), the current study examined how experiencing traffic stops affect the likelihood that Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics will contact the police for services. First, experiencing one or more traffic stops in the past year significantly decreased the likelihood of contacting the police for assistance and to report a neighborhood problem, net of other demographic characteristics. Second, traffic stop experiences had similar effects on Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, each group less likely to have contacted the police for assistance and to report neighborhood problems if they had experienced one or more traffic stops in the past year. This study also discusses the reasons why experiencing traffic stops are related to contacting the police for help and provides some implications for police–community relationships.

Jordan, K. L., & Freiburger, T. L. (2010). Examining the impact of race and ethnicity on the sentencing of juveniles in the adult court. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 21(2), 185–201.

Several studies have examined the effects of race and ethnicity on the sentences of adult offenders in the criminal court. The findings of these studies often show that race and ethnicity influence defendants’ sentencing outcomes. Few studies, however, have examined how race and ethnicity influence juvenile defendants sentenced in the adult criminal justice system. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to determine how race and ethnicity affect the sentences of juveniles, utilizing a national dataset of youth convicted of a felony in adult court. The findings suggest that race and ethnicity do impact the sentencing outcomes of convicted youthful offenders. In addition, the results suggest that the combination of race and other factors (i.e., interactions) has an effect on sentencing. Implications for subsequent research also are discussed.

Steffensmeier, D. (1980). Assessing the impact of the women’s movement on sex-based differences in the handling of adult criminal defendants. Crime & Delinquency26, 344–358.

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.