International defendants in federal criminal court : an examination of racial, ethnic, and citizenship status disparity in sentencing outcomes

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Clark, James Dryden

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The use of extra-legal factors in determining criminal sentences has long been a topic of interest to criminologists. Research on sentencing guidelines has consistently found unwarranted disparities related to defendants' ethnoracial identity, but there is limited research on the effects of defendants' citizenship status. Roughly 40 percent of defendants convicted in federal courts are non-U.S. citizens, thus by shear size, citizenship status has become a major issue within federal courts. Using U.S. Sentencing Commission data between Fiscal Years 2000 to 2003, this dissertation examines the impact of defendants’ ethnoracial identity and citizenship status on sentencing outcomes in federal criminal court. Building on intersectional theory, particular attention is given to the interaction between defendants’ ethnoracial identity and citizenship status. Decomposition of hetroskedastic tobit regressions are used to model unwarranted disparities for both the probability and length of incarceration. Results indicate that relative to White U.S. citizens, Asian and Pacific Islander U.S. citizens have lower probability of incarceration and shorter sentences. Black and Hispanic defendants, both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens tend to have harsher sentences relative to their White counterparts. Overall, non-U.S. citizens whom are Black and Hispanic experience a multiplicative disadvantage in sentencing outcomes relative to Whites and Asian or Pacific Islanders. Additionally, results from this study indicate that defendants whom are not U.S. citizens and from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islanders, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Middle-East all serve harsher sentences relative to White U.S. citizens.




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