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Felony Sentencing in Rural and Urban Courts: Comparing Formal Legal and Substantive Political Models in the West

34 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009  

Victoria A. Springer

University of Nevada, Reno

Janice Russell

University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies

Matthew C Leone

University of Nevada, Reno; University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies

James T. Richardson

University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies

Date Written: July 3, 2009

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.

Keywords: sentencing, rural, urban, formal legal model, substantive political model

JEL Classification: K1, K14

Suggested Citation

Springer, Victoria A. and Russell, Janice and Leone, Matthew C and Richardson, James T., Felony Sentencing in Rural and Urban Courts: Comparing Formal Legal and Substantive Political Models in the West (July 3, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1441593 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1441593

Victoria A. Springer (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Reno ( email )

Reno, NV 89557
United States

Janice Russell

University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies ( email )

University of Nevada, Reno
Mailstop 313
Reno, NV 89557
United States

Matthew C Leone

University of Nevada, Reno ( email )

Reno, NV 89557
United States

University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies ( email )

University of Nevada, Reno
Mailstop 313
Reno, NV 89557
United States

James T. Richardson

University of Nevada, Reno - The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies ( email )

University of Nevada, Reno
Mailstop 313
Reno, NV 89557
United States

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