Can Equitable Punishment Be Mandated? Estimating Impacts of Sentencing Guidelines on Disciplinary Disparities
35 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013 Last revised: 14 Jun 2013
Date Written: March 28, 2013
This study empirically investigates the potentially unintended effects of state laws that sought to improve safety in U.S. public school by mandating standardized student punishment. We estimate the effects of exogenous state-level variation in the quantity and type of such mandates on race-based disciplinary disparities across students who commit serious offenses. Estimation results indicate that more severe punishments are imposed in schools with higher proportions of black or Hispanic students, but such disparities are significantly dampened in states that mandate a higher number of guidelines for serious offenses. However, more guidelines for less severe misconduct tend to increase race-based disciplinary disparities and increase the severity of punishments administered for serious offenses. These outcomes extend the existing sentencing guidelines literature and offer important insights for effectively crafting future policies.
Keywords: punishment disparities, racial bias, school discipline, sentencing guidelines
JEL Classification: K42, I28, I24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation