Ethnic Discrimination in Criminal Sentencing in China
48 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 5, 2019
This paper presents the first analysis of ethnic discrimination in sentencing patterns in the People's Republic of China, focusing on drug cases in Yunnan province. We posit the "problem minority" hypothesis, which holds that discrimination in an authoritarian system emerges when an ethnic group becomes associated with behavior that generates social instability. On average, minority defendants in Yunnan have sentences that are about 1.5 to 8.0 months longer than Han defendants that have committed similar drug crimes. Further analysis of data from all provinces reveals that this bias is largest for groups heavily involved in the drug trade. Sentencing is particularly harsh in autonomous counties and prefectures where minorities are concentrated.
Keywords: authoritarian, ethnicity, China, Yunnan, drugs, judicial politics, courts, discrimination
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