Retributive Justice Theory and "Foreign" Inmates

Denise Nation, University of Cincinnati
Mengyan Dai, University of Cincinnati

There has been a continuous connection made between immigration and crime. Some studies have suggested that the large foreign presence in U.S. prisons is a reflection of the criminal justice process rather than offending patterns. Thus, the "fairness" of the criminal justice process has been called into question. Utilizing the theory of retributive justice as it relates to decisions about the application and severity of punishment, this study assesses the disproportionality of sentencing policies. Data from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities is used to examine sentencing disparity between U.S. citizens and non-citizens convicted of similar offenses. The implications for theory, research, and policy are explored.

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Updated 05/20/2006