Judges On Trial : A Reexamination Of Judicial Race And Gender Effects Across Modes Of Conviction

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Judges on Trial: A Reexamination of Judicial Race and Gender Effects Across Modes of Conviction
By
Brian D. Johnson

Purpose:
The purpose of the article is to examine the issues with data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing that has been strengthened to include information on sentencing judges and criminal court contexts, and it argues that the mode of conviction shapes the focus of sentencing discretion in ways that systematically underestimate judge effects for pooled estimates of incarceration and sentence length (Johnson, p. 159). Research that focuses on the effects of judicial background characteristics suggest minimal influence based on race or gender of the sentencing judge in criminal cases. The possibilities
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The PCS identifies collect information on all misdemeanors and felonies sentenced in the state of Pennsylvania. The PCS data is state-level resource for studying criminal sentencing. It contains a variety of theoretically important individual level predictors of sentencing. The offense severity and prior criminal history, as well as various offender characteristics like age, race/ethnicity, and gender. Detailed information is available that identifies if an offender pleads guilty, negotiated a plea, or was convicted at bench or jury trial. Second, the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines that were enacted in 1982, are the oldest presumptive guidelines in operation.

Results:
Statistics based each level of analysis identifies predictors disaggregated by mode of conviction. Usually the offender is a white male in his early thirties who is convicted though a negotiated guilty plea. There were limited differences between offenders who negotiate a plea deal and those who plead guilty. Offenders who go to trial showed some similarities. They were either charged with more serious crimes, had longer prior records, and are disproportionately male, black and Hispanic. These individual

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