Research Design

Political Science Research Report
Institution Affiliation
Student’s Name
Statement of the Problem
White men committing the same crime with the black men are given a short sentence
compared to the black men. Federal prison of the United States reported that the black men get
twenty percent longer sentences. The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) after
observing a wide range of varieties such as education, age, citizenship, prior criminal history,
and weapon possession stated that the black men received longer sentences compared to white
men (Rehavi & Starr, 2014). It is contributed by control of sentencing disparities by non-
governmental organizations. The judges voluntarily revise the sentences given to the victims.
After revision of the sentences, they reduce the penalty of the blacks by smaller amounts
compared to the offenders who are white. Marc Mauer is a member of the sentencing project
where he serves as the director. The sentencing project aims at reducing bias in the criminal
justice system. The prosecutors contribute to the decision of whether the offender will serve a
minimum or substantial sentence. Prosecutors are more likely to charge the black people with
long terms in jail compared to the whites according to the journal of criminal justice (Steiner &
Wooldredge, 2015). A prosecutor may recognize that the judge is not guided by the ore-Booker
guidelines making him or she impose a mandatory sentence to the offender and make sure that a
certain period is imposed without being interfered by the judge.
United States of America house the largest population in the world. The ration of
prisoners is 666 inmates per 100,000 individuals (Omi & Winant, 2014). However, the quota of
the whites and blacks in prison differ. There is a ratio of four hundred and fifty prisoners per one
hundred thousand people while in blacks; the inmate's rate is five times higher. It has a ratio of
two thousand, three hundred and six inmates per one hundred thousand people. Recent research
done by the University of Michigan said that reducing the back prisoner’s number by nine
percent would save 230 million dollars a year. However, the judges are less likely to volunteer to
revise the sentences of the blacks. It is one of the reasons why the African Americans are more
behind bars comparing to the whites despite committing the same crimes. However, the judges
use the USSC’s guidelines which Booker opposes (Kim, et al, 2016). According to an article
written on United States vs. Booker on sentence severity, Booker states that it is easier to impose
harsh and short sentences rather than following the sentencing guidelines in USSC. However, the
black men are sentenced for more years for committing the same crime as the white person.
Explanation of the Theory
United States of America adult population consists of 6% of black men. However, 35%
of the prison population is occupied by black men (Omi & Winant, 2014). They are six times
greater in numbers compared to the white people in the prisons. During 2008-2009, the average
sentence given on federal courts was 90 months for the blacks and 55 months for the blacks. The
difference in the incarceration months is a concern to different people (Kaeble, et al, 2016).
People questions if the white and the blacks caught making the same mistakes are charged the
same imprisonment. It is, however, a challenge to answer the question because the criminal
conduct data is not adequate. There is a racial disparity in the prisons whereby the blacks are
given a longer sentence compared to the whites. Both the possible punishment and a crime of
conviction get considered as criminal conduct. Each offense has negotiated processes that
involve sentencing fact-finding, charging and plea bargaining. However, these processes involve
some racial disparities and are carried out about the sentencing consequences.
By analyzing the distribution of prison sentences about race by moths, it provides a
picture of comparing the blacks and the whites. It helps in comparing the whites and blacks that
were arrested by the same offenses, but things turn out to be different after entering the federal
justice system. The racial disparities in conducting the federal sentences are determined by the
criminal history and how the arrest offense differs. By observing every case from arrest up to
sentencing makes it easier to point out where the disparities evolved from in the judicial process.
The prosecutors serve as a determinant of the charges the offender will face. How the
prosecutors chose to handle the case may lead to the mandatory sentences. The chances of a
black person to experience such charges are by 1.75 times higher compared to the white people
(Brown, 2018). It increases the probability of blacks to face higher or longer sentences in jail
compared to the white men. The minimum charging decision set up by the laws explains the
disparities in black and white people.
Different factors influence the final decision of the judge. Sentence disparity involves
negotiations between different groups of people to come up with a conclusion. However, the
discussions may contain racial differences influencing the final decision of the judge all the
other literature including the role of the prosecutors and previous history of the offender shape
the sentences. The prosecutor enjoys each step of freedom to decide what should be done to the
offender. Involvement of the prosecutors in negotiations influences stipulations was presumptive
sentences based. It refers to a guideline for establishing a baseline the judge uses when setting up
punishment to the offender. It contains the appropriate sentence for an absolute crime, jail
charges and time one will spend in jail. The charges that carry statutory mandatory minimum
sentences can be used by the prosecutor to make judgments, and the tool can cause sentence
disparities. It is one of the primary reasons why some individuals have longer and harsh
sentences compared to the others.
According to the journal of political economy, by looking at the federal system, an
approximate of 97% cases is of guilty pleas. The federal prosecutors of the United States possess
freedom (Rehavi & Starr, 2014). It begins with choosing the charges for the offender. The
prosecutor may use ambiguous facts and have strong evidence making the offender face heavy
charges. The judges, legal scholars and the practitioners in the different institutions related to the
law have affirmed that the prosecutor has a significant role in determining the sentence of the
offender. The previous studies conducted on demographic and racial disparities in sentencing
have considered the general way of sentencing as an influence of the decisions that are made
before the final decision. For example, the federal system relies on USSC alone to make a final
decision for the disparities. Use of this system varies, and it tends to favor the whites compared
to the blacks. The base offense level was used by Schanzenbach and Fischman as a guideline for
criminal conduct and found out that there were vast differences that favored the white (Ulmer, et
al, 2016).
There is a vast difference in the term and charges imposed on the offender. Some
guidelines are considered to be notional thus producing racial differences in judge adherence to
the instructions. Fact-finding helps to determine the guidelines to be followed while conducting
the case and the judge may cause a disparity in sentences whereby he or she may state that the
evidence in the case is not adequate or decide to assume it. The parties making the decision and
the bargaining over the charges involved may influence the sentencing fact of the individual.
However, in the federal system, more than 50% of the sentences cannot be explained by the
offender’s previous traits or the offense when arrested (Yang, 2015).
A black person continues to get longer sentences compared to the whites having
committed the same crime. An analysis shows that there is a difference of 19.1% of the black
men’s convictions is long compared to the whites. Even after controlling factors such as age,
education and criminal history, the sentences of black people are longer. On average, if a black
has committed the same mistake with the white, they should expect their charges to be a bit
higher. The United States Sentencing Commission stated that between the years 2012-2016 the
sentences of the black men were longer compared to the whites (Blume & Vann, 2016).
Different variables were put into account that included citizenship, age if someone is pleaded
guilty and education. Another history conducted in 2016 alone gave similar results. About the
report presented by the commission, it is evidence that disparity is growing each year rapidly.
In the year 2005 and 2007, the judges were given more discretion in sentencing. It was
brought about by the effects of Booker and Gall versus the United States in 2005 and 2007
respectively (Kim, et al, 2016). The high role of choice given to the judges was said to open
more opportunities of causing bias to the races. The sentencing commission reported that the
judges could easily cut white men a break as compared to give a break to the black men. The
sentences of white men get reduced under the discretion of the judge as compared to the white
man. It is the reason as to why the white men are less in prisons as compared to black men who
are five times more in prisons. A study done by Michigan University showed that the increase of
Black men in the prisons is as a result of prosecutors charging decisions (Lee, et al, 2015). It
brought the differences between the sentences given to the white and black men. Race plays a
significant role in how one is perceived in the community and to the general public. America
Psychological Association found out that black men get viewed as threatening and substantial
compared to the white people who are seen to be non-violent (Zinn, et al, 2015). It influences the
decision of the people involved in the case to give a sentence. A less harmful person is given a
less punishment compared to a person who is harmful. It is the reason why the blacks are more in
prisons compared to the whites.
Statement of the Specific Hypotheses to be tested
There is a lot of bias existing in the criminal justice system. The use of different
approaches can eradicate the prejudice. People from different races add up to 30% of the United
States population. However, 60% of the races get imprisoned. One to three men of different races
is charged with life imprisonment compared to one to one hundred and six white men. Hillary
Clinton on a talk on criminal agenda stated that bias and disparity could be avoided by retraining
the police. The differences in sentences are not shown only by the differences in illegal activities.
According to an article published by stinger in New York, there is racial disproportionality in
prison. However, at each stage of the criminal justice process, the male offenders receive a hard
and harsh treatment from the people making the decision (Blumstein, 2015). Creating awareness
on racial differences and training over a few years have helped to make a small difference in
preventing bias in the criminal justice system.
A cross-sectional study on prosecutors and democracy states that prosecutors contribute
much to the length of the sentence. The prosecutors in these cases are individuals concerned with
the decision on whom to charge with a crime and the crime it is (Simon, 2017). More than two
thousand three hundred people in the United States exercise the prosecutor role of volition. For
example, a drug trafficker may be charged by the offense to sell drugs or prosecutor may decide
to charge the offender for each phone call that the person made. Many crimes attract more years
in prison and many fines. However, the prosecutor has a right to make no change whereby 95%
of the criminal cases are solved through plea bargains by not involving the judiciary in the
Blinding can help remove the prosecution bias whereby the race of the suspect gets
removed from the information (Sah, et al, 2015). It can quickly be done by asking the police or
office assistants to remove race from the documents or by using the software to manage the
cases. The program is useful as it involves minimal cost and a small effort by the administration.
However, the barrier accompanied by this case is a failure of every prosecutor office to blind
every case. Achieving these without political pressure is hard. The prosecutors make their
decisions based on the files of the police. The police should use the suspect's race for
identification purposes. It should not be relevant to the case. The prosecutors do not work with
the defendant, and when it is necessary, they work with the defense attorneys. The only way a
prosecutor can learn the race of the suspect is through the police reports and fines, but they can
be blinded.
The prosecutors may not be bad actors intentionally, but they suffer from unconscious
bias. About different studies conducted over the previous years, the white people view the black
individuals as a threat without any intended consent. Research done on workplace study, shows
that, the white names applying for a job received more callbacks compared to the blacks.
Different studies have shown that even the trained experts experience racial bias when making
specialized decisions on whom to give the work. Hillary Clinton and different policymakers
believe that the racial prejudice can get removed by training the police and how the prosecutors
should be professional (Birkland, 2015). A high percentage of people suffering from bias are not
aware. Many white people should be instructed to stop being racist and stop being aggressive
while interacting with blacks. It will help curb the current bias in the criminal justice system.
Sample Procedure and Variables included in the Analysis
The methods used to conduct the research were a probability sampling method that
utilizes the random selection method because it gives the statistics that are valid. The chosen
sample represented the population incarcerated because we are testing whether the race plays a
role in incarceration. Stratified sampling is used in the research whereby the incarcerated
population got divided into two the blacks and whites. The blacks are less in the US population
whereby they are around 6% compared to the whites who are the majority with a percentage of
77.7% as per the results of 2013. However, the black people are more in prison compared to the
whites. There are different variables in the research analysis. The dependent and independent
variables are evident in the research. The independent variable can be manipulated while the
dependent variable can be observed and measured. A change in the independent variables affects
the dependent variables. The race of criminal is independent variable while the length of
incarceration is dependent variable used in the study.
Data Presentation
The data collected is both qualitative and quantitative analysis whereby the information is
be analyzed in descriptive analysis. The hypothesis to be tested is whether the race plays a role in
the length of incarceration. The hypothesis will get tested by imagining the null hypothesis is real
to help observe the results. The null hypothesis will be proofed to support another theory
whereby the variables do not have a statistical significance. It has helped in getting the views on
racial disparity and their influence on decision making in the judicial systems. The case study
will be used to analyze the research whereby the topic of the study will be narrowed to a simple
issue. The study uses the data from the United States Marshal Service, the United States
administrative office and the office of the US Attorneys (Harding, 2018). It will aid in intensely
studying the situation and getting into more in-depth details of the study. The analysis of the
previous reports will be done to find out the numbers of the blacks in prison compared to the
white men. The alternative hypothesis will be used which is directly opposite to the null
hypothesis and states that variables do have a statistical significance. It will be the hypothesis
used to discredit and disprove where necessary.
According to the data from the United States Marshal Service, the United States
administrative office and the office of the US Attorneys, the sentence of an individual depends
on the committed offense. The judges have the right to review the cases of the individuals in the
prison and may give them a break if necessary. It is clear that it is associated with racial
differences whereby the cases of the white individuals are reviewed more compared to the black
people. The prosecutors impose less or no charges to the whites while heavy changes and
mandatory sentence is imposed to the blacks by the prosecutors (Kim, et al, 2015). It is the
reason as to why the blacks are more imprison compared to the whites. From the statistics gotten
from the data collected, I support that the race plays a role in the length of incarceration.
Black men serve a long time in prison for a similar offense committed by a white who
ends up serving shorter terms of imprisonment having done the same crime. The black people
make a population of 6% of the people in the United States of America (Zinn, 2015). However,
there are many black male prisoners compared to whites despite their low population in the
states. The black people are considered to be evil and harmful compared to white people. The
prosecutor tends to look the race of the person before deciding on what charges to impose on the
individual by introducing blinding in all cases whereby the race of the individual will be hidden
or removed from the view of the prosecutor to avoid bias. It will contribute to justice and prevent
racial discrimination. Justice can be made possible by educating people on races and training the
prosecutors to work professionally thus promoting justice. The number of prisoners will decrease
if justice is applied and these will save the taxpayers a lot of money.
In conclusion, black men serve more time in prison compared to the whites having
committed the same offenses. Prosecutor’s charges and racial differences contribute the long
sentences given to the black men. However, it can get avoided by blinding which will help in
removing the prosecution bias thus preventing racial discrimination (Sah, et al, 2015). Surveys
and case study will be used in presenting the data which will help in getting the views on racial
disparity and their influence on decision making in the judicial systems.
Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of
public policy making. Routledge.
Blume, J. H., & Vann, L. S. (2016). Forty Years of Death: The Past, Present, and Future of the
Death Penalty in South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years). Duke J. Const.
L. & Pub. Pol'y, 11, 183.
Blumstein, A. (2015). Racial disproportionality in prison. In Race and social problems (pp. 187-
193). Springer, New York, NY.
Brown, M. K. (2018). Race in the American Welfare State: The Ambiguities of “Universalistic”
Social Policy Since the New Deal. In Without justice for all (pp. 93-122). Routledge.
Harding, R. (2018). Private prisons and public accountability. Routledge.
Kaeble, D., Glaze, L., Tsoutis, A., & Minton, T. (2016). Correctional populations in the United
States, 2014. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1-19
Kim, B., Cano, M. V., Kim, K., & Spohn, C. (2016). The impact of United States v. Booker and
Gall/Kimbrough v. the United States on sentence severity: Assessing social context and
judicial discretion. Crime & Delinquency, 62(8), 1072-1094.
Kim, B., Cano, M. V., Kim, K., & Spohn, C. (2016). The impact of United States v. Booker and
Gall/Kimbrough v. United States on sentence severity: Assessing social context and
judicial discretion. Crime & Delinquency, 62(8), 1072-1094.
Kim, B., Spohn, C., & Hedberg, E. C. (2015). Federal sentencing as a complex collaborative
process: Judges, prosecutors, judgeprosecutor dyads, and disparity in
sentencing. Criminology, 53(4), 597-623.
Lee, H., McCormick, T., Hicken, M. T., & Wildeman, C. (2015). Racial inequalities in
connectedness to imprisoned individuals in the United States. Du Bois Review: Social
Science Research on Race, 12(2), 269-282.
Omi, M., & Winant, H. (2014). Racial formation in the United States. Routledge.
Rehavi, M. M., & Starr, S. B. (2014). Racial disparity in federal criminal sentences. Journal of
Political Economy, 122(6), 1320-1354.
Rehavi, M. M., & Starr, S. B. (2014). Racial disparity in federal criminal sentences. Journal of
Political Economy, 122(6), 1320-1354.
Sah, S., Robertson, C. T., & Baughman, S. B. (2015). Blinding prosecutors to defendants' race:
A policy proposal to reduce unconscious bias in the criminal justice system. Behavioral
Science & Policy, 1(2), 69-76.
Simon, W. H. (2017). The Organization of Prosecutorial Discretion. Prosecutors and
Democracy: A Cross-National Study, 175.
Steiner, B., & Wooldredge, J. (2015). Racial (in) variance in prison rule breaking. Journal of
Criminal Justice, 43(3), 175-185.
Ulmer, J., Painter-Davis, N., & Tinik, L. (2016). Disproportional imprisonment of Black and
Hispanic males: Sentencing discretion, processing outcomes, and policy
structures. Justice Quarterly, 33(4), 642-681.
Yang, C. S. (2015). Free at last? Judicial discretion and racial disparities in federal
sentencing. The Journal of Legal Studies, 44(1), 75-111.
Zinn, H. (2015). A people's history of the United States: 1492-present. Routledge.
Zinn, M. B., Hondagneu-Sotelo, P., Messner, M. A., & Denissen, A. M. (2015). Gender through
the prism of difference. Oxford University Press, USA.
Appendix I
Table 1; The Rates of Drug-related criminal Justice Measures by Race
Whites in
in percentage
Drug Related
Drug Related
Drug Related
At the states level, the blacks are about 6.5 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated or
drug related crimes
Drug Related Arrest Drug Related
Incarceration (State)
Drug Related
Incarceration (federal)
whites in percentage
blacks in percentage
Appendix II
Table 2; Percent of adult males incarcerated in the United States prisons and jails
combined in 2009
Males incarcerated
Hispanic Blacks Whites All
Males incarcerated
Males incarcerated
Appendix III
Table 3; Black prisoners by offence estimated number under state jurisdiction by offence
per December 31 2012
Black inmates
All inmates
Public order
Other Sexual Assault
Other violent
Man Slaughter

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