Over the past several decades, sentencing reforms have claimed to establish guidelines to reduce sentencing disparity; yet, recent studies continue to find discrepancies in sentencing outcomes. The current study explored individual factors using data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission (FY 2010) to further analyze these variables through the lens of cumulative disadvantage theory. The factors included the influence of age, race, sex (gender), offense type, instant offense score, and overall criminal history score on sentencing length (in months). Hierarchical regression revealed being identified as Black, committing fraud/white collar crime or a property offense, and overall criminal history were able to significantly predict sentence length—findings consistent with cumulative disadvantage theory. Contrary to previous studies, the current results suggest that age may have a positive relationship with sentencing length. The findings are not without limitations but do provide a modern-day picture of continued marginalization of certain defendants within the criminal justice system.
Terry, April and Lockwood, Ashley
"Federal Sentencing Disparities and Marginalized Offenders: Revisiting Cumulative Disadvantage Theory Through Individual-Level Variables,"
Academic Leadership Journal in Student Research: Vol. 5
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholars.fhsu.edu/aljsr/vol5/iss1/4