Examining the Use of Prison and Jail Sentences in Large Urban Counties

Robert R. Weidner, University of Minnesota Law School
Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School

This paper examines within-U.S. inter-jurisdictional differences in punitiveness--which commonly have been studied using states' per capita imprisonment rates--by using archived data sets on felony court case processing in large urban counties. These data--for the years 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1996, are used to conduct individual-level analyses that examine the variations in the use of prison sentences, relative to jail sentences, while controlling for legal (e.g., instant charge, criminal history) and extralegal (e.g., race/ethnicity, sex, georgraphic region) factors. Findings from these multivariate analyses are discussed in relation to the results of prior research by the authors that used other data sets to examine variations in prison-use at the county level.

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Updated 05/20/2006