Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Ethnic Studies
This study expands upon an earlier exploration of sentencing disparity in the Yakima County, Washington judicial system. The Sentencing Reform Act was adopted in 1981, becoming effective in 1984, to end inequitable sentences imposed on individuals who are convicted of similar offenses. This work adds to the original study by including an investigation of "exceptional" sentences and "offense type" crime. Independent variables are defendants' ethnicity (Hispanic, Native American, and White), age, and gender. The period of investigation includes fiscal years 1986 through 1991. Data was provided to the researchers by the Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission and was processed using a difference of means test (ANOVA program). The findings suggest that sentencing disparity, while not being widespread, does persist nearly a decade after the Sentencing Reform Act was adopted. Hispanic defendants who had no prior criminal history were apt to receive disproportionately more severe sentences for similar crimes than Native Americans or whites.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1993