Studying the Impact of Sentencing Commissions on Racial Disparity: Evidence From Maryland

Anne Morrison Piehl, Harvard University
Shawn D. Bushway, University of Maryland at College Park

Recent theoretical developments in research on sentencing have focused on the motivations of the individual actors who make up the courtroom context. There is also growing concern that standard empirical techniques do not adequately distinguish between these actors. In this paper, we build on our recent work on judicial discretion by identifying and explaining the discretion due to the legal environment itself. We develop the implications of this work for the study of disparity in sentencing, particularly racial disparity.

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Updated 05/20/2006