The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

B. The Contestants

CHAPTER 8
The Litigants: Disparities in Safeguards and Sentencing

Studies have previously been made of disparities in the sentencing of defendants who have different background characteristics in a given city or state.1 It is the purpose of this chapter to analyze some data relevant to disparities at all stages in the administration of criminal procedure, not just the sentencing stage, and to do so with a nationwide sample of both state and federal cases. This chapter also considers the causes of and remedies for the substantial disparities found.

____________________

The writer gratefully thanks Lee Silverstein of the American Bar Foundation and Ronald Beattie of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts for their generous cooperation in allowing him to have access to their data on state and federal criminal cases, respectively. The data can now be obtained on magnetic tape or punched cards from the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research at Ann Arbor, Michigan. The writer also thanks Robert Byars and Lois Chatlain (political science students at the University of Illinois and University of Arizona respectively) for their participation in early phases of this study. Thanks are also owed to John Gilbert (the statistical consultant at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences) for his help in processing some of the data and to the participants in the 1965 judicial process seminar at the East-West Center for their helpful comments.

1
GREEN, JUDICIAL ATTITUDES IN SENTENCING; A STUDY OF THE FACTORS UNDERLYING THE SENTENCING PRACTICE OF THE CRIMINAL COURT OF PHILADELPHIA ( 1961); Bullock, "Significance of the Racial Factor in the Length of Prison Sentences", 52 J. CRIM. L., C. & P.S. 411 ( 1961); Wolfgang, Kelly & Nolde, "Comparison of the Executed and the Commuted among Admissions to Death Row", 53 J. CRIM. L., C. & P.S. 301 ( 1962). For a listing of earlier related work, see the six-page annotated bibliography INSTITUTE OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION, DISPARITY IN SENTENCING OF CONVICTED DEFENDANTS ( 1954), although many of the items listed there emphasize differences among types of judges rather than types of defendants. For a judge-focused study of disparities, see Nagel, "Judicial Backgrounds and Criminal Cases", 53 J. CRIM. L., C. P.S. 333 ( 1962) (Chap. 18 infra).

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