Racial Disparity in Felony Sentencing Re-Contextualizing a Community Concern as a Research Problem

Daniel C. Dahlgren, Kent State University, Stark Campus
Peter C. Kratcoski, Kent State University, Stark Campus
Sonja Beatty, Kent State University
Rhondi Mosteller, Kent State University

In 1999, Reverend Al Sharpton came to Canton Ohio to investigate allegations that the police were involved in racial profiling, and that the Stark County Courts exhibited discriminatory sentencing practices. Meetings ensued between African American leaders in the community, representatives of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, and Kent State University. These meetings resulted in the current study in which legal and extra-legal factors were used to evaluate the differences in sentencing patterns between all felony offenders (over 6000 charges) from 1999-2001. Specific predictors (in addition to the primary focus of race), limitations, and findings are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006