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Washington Post
May 23, 2018

Black defendants receive longer prison terms from Republican-appointed judges, study finds
By Christopher Ingraham

Federal judges appointed by Republican presidents give black defendants sentences that are, on average, six to seven months longer than the sentences they give to similar white defendants, according to a new working paper from Alma Cohen and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School. That racial sentencing disparity is about twice as large as the one observed among judges appointed by Democrats, who give black defendants sentences that are three to four months longer than the sentences they give to white defendants with similar histories who commit similar crimes. Cohen and Yang estimate that differences between how Democratic and Republican judges treat black and nonblack defendants account for 65 percent of the total racial sentencing gap observed at the federal level. To arrive at these numbers, Cohen and Yang examined over 500,000 sentences handed down by nearly 1,400 federal judges between 1999 and 2015. By merging data sets from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Federal Judicial Center and Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, the authors were able to see how the individual characteristics of federal judges, like demographics and the political affiliation of their appointing president, influenced the sentences given to various types of federal criminal defendants.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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