Racial Disparity in the Wake of the Booker/Fanfan Decision: An Alternative Analysis to the USSC’s 2010 Report

Criminology and Public Policy, Vol. 10, No 4, 2010

68 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2010 Last revised: 9 Oct 2011

Jeffery Todd Ulmer

Penn State University

Michael T. Light

Purdue University

John H. Kramer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 5, 2011

Abstract

The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) released a report in March 2010 concluding that racial disparity in federal sentencing has increased in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Booker (2005) and U.S. v. Gall (2007). In light of this USSC report, we provide an alternative set of analyses which we believe provides a more complete and informative picture of racial, ethnic, and gender disparity in federal sentencing outcomes. We first attempt to replicate the USSC’s models. Then we present alternative models of sentencing outcomes across three time periods spanning FY 2000 to 2009. We find that post-Booker/Gall race/ethnic/gender disparity in sentence length is generally comparable to pre-2003 levels. Our findings mainly diverge from the USSC’s because of: 1) the USSC’s decision to include non-incarceration cases in the sentence length analysis (as sentence lengths of 0), since more racial disparity appears to be manifest in the incarceration decision than in sentence lengths, and 2) the inclusion of immigration offenses in the USSC’s analyses, since comparatively greater disparity affecting black males is observed among immigration offenses. We also extend the USSC report by: 1) presenting analyses that compare post-Booker sentence length disparity with disparity before the 1996 US. V. Koon decision, and 2) presenting an analysis of disparity in departures/deviations from the Guidelines.

Keywords: Sentencing disparity, judicial discretion, federal courts, U.S. v. Booker decision

Suggested Citation

Ulmer, Jeffery Todd and Light, Michael T. and Kramer, John H., Racial Disparity in the Wake of the Booker/Fanfan Decision: An Alternative Analysis to the USSC’s 2010 Report (January 5, 2011). Criminology and Public Policy, Vol. 10, No 4, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1675117

Jeffery Todd Ulmer (Contact Author)

Penn State University ( email )

Department of Sociology
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Michael T. Light

Purdue University ( email )

610 Purdue Mall
West Lafayette, IN 47907
United States

John H. Kramer

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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