Felony Sentencing in Rural and Urban Courts: Comparing Formal Legal and Substantive Political Models in the West
34 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009
Date Written: July 3, 2009
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.
Keywords: sentencing, rural, urban, formal legal model, substantive political model
JEL Classification: K1, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation