Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System


RacialDiscrimination in the Criminal Justice System

1.0 Research question

Is there a direct relationship between race, ethnicity and sentencingoutcomes regardless of the seriousness of an event and thedefendant’s criminal history?

2.0 Research methodology and rationale

The following research shall entail a meta-analysis. It will involveconducting an analysis of reports with a purpose of integratingvarious findings. A meta-analysis provides the avenue to summarizethe results from a large body of research. Besides, it enables theresearcher to extract knowledge from a vast pool of informationprovided by individual studies. Meta-analysis allows the researcherto standardize the results from each study in a manner thatfacilitates comparisons between the various results. Use of effectsizes achieves standardization. The effect sizes are used inconducting data analysis similar to other dependent and independentvariables. It is a form of study where research results are surveyedinstead of people (Dixon et al., 2015).

3.0 Population

The study will involve all published information and unpublisheddoctorate reports on ethnicity within the U.S justice in the pastfive years.

4.0 The sample

1. Reports that examine sentencing outcomes in criminal courts. Itshall exclude juvenile court sentences since they are likely to causesignificant differences in the manner in which race affectssentencing outcomes between capital and non-capital offenses.Besides, juvenile courts entail additional issues such as the needsof a child that are not considered in criminal cases (Dixon et al.,2015).

2. Reports that integrate simultaneous controls for both theseriousness of offenses and the criminal’s history. Studies that donot control for seriousness of the offense and criminal history willbe excluded. The severity of an offense and a defendant’s criminalhistory are some of the factors contributing to differences insentences. Literature indicates that blacks have longer history ofcrime and commit more serious crimes than the whites

3. Reports that evaluate the direct influence of race/ ethnicityon sentencing outcomes

4. Reports that examine sentencing outcomes unrelated to deathpenalty decisions.

5.0 Dependent variable(s).

The key dependent variable for the study is the sentencing outcomesfor black and white ethnic groups. The study shall aim at enumeratingthe differences in sentencing variables on the same case but indouble contrast. A double contrast means similar contexts thatreceived different sentences where the defendant was from the whiteor black ethnic group (Dixon et al., 2015).

6.0 Independent variables

The key independent variables in the Meta-analysis will include thecontext and methodology used in arriving at a given sentencingoutcome. The individual variables include: 1. Incarcerationdecisions 2. The length of incarceration sentence. The term ofsentence will be established on an ordinal scale where probation isthe least severe and the long-term sentences being the most severe3. The concurrent evaluation of imprisonment and decision on thelength of the sentence 4. The discretionary lenience. It is wherethe criminal is sentenced to a softer term than ordinary sentence 5.The discretionary punitiveness. It is where the sentence is harsherthan ordinary (Dixon et al., 2015).

7.0 Data collection

The search strategy will aim at identifying both published andunpublished doctorate reports on racial discrimination in the USjustice system. The plan will involve the use of reportbibliographies, references from eligible reports, computerizedliterature databases such as the criminal justice abstracts, socialscience citation indices, Psych InFO, and the National CriminalJustice Reference Service (NCJRS). It will also include dissertationsand abstracts, information from online conference programs andrelevant conference proceedings such as those from the AmericanSociety of Criminology. The online search strategy will use a set ofkeyword combinations such as judicial sentencing, sentencingdiscretion, sentencing reform, judicial discretion, sentencingdiscretion, sentencing disparity, race, ethnicity, African- American.The strategy will involve various state sentencing bodies todetermine whether the organizations have evaluated their sentencingpractices as pertains unwarranted ethnic sentencing disparity.Contacts to the institutions will be obtained from the information inthe National Association of State sentencing commission to develop amailing list (Dixon et al., 2015).

8.0 Measurement of independent and dependent variables

The first step will involve eliminating various instances of biaswithin dependent variables. The study will code the reports based ondifferent attributes depending on the nature of control variables andhow the report measures the offense seriousness and the criminalhistory. The coding will assist in eliminating factors thatcontribute to sentence variance (Dixon et al., 2015). The factorsinclude the criminal history, severity of the offense, sex, the typeof attorney, defendant’s pre- trial status and the social economicstatus of the accused.

The resultant samples will be analyzed based on the type of offenses,age of defendants, publication status, and the sentencing context.The sentencing context will take into consideration the guidelinesused, the region, and the period. The variables will be used toidentify the magnitude of variances in the sentencing outcome. (Dixonet al., 2015)

Descriptive analysis will eliminate cases of statistical bias byexcluding statistically dependent reports. Such reports rely on dataprovided by other independent reports in the study sample. Finally,the reports will be evaluated on code ability based on the dependentvariables of interest for the study (Dixon et al., 2015).

9.0 Analysis.

The effect sizes will be analyzed in two steps. First through adescriptive analysis and later coded through meta-analytic analogs tothe analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple regressions. The studywill determine which moderator variables have a significantvariability in the effect size, which is the unwarranted sentencingdisparity. The effect of each study will be evaluated with itsinverse. It will include the number of black/ white defendants thatexperienced any unwarranted sentencing against those who did not.Finally, a multivariate regression will provide a parallel comparisonof sentencing outcomes that relate to African American and whites. Itwill provide instances where blacks obtained harsher sentences thanwhites (Dixon et al., 2015).


Dixon,J. C., Singleton, R., &amp Straits, B. C. (2015).&nbspTheprocess of social research.United Kingdom. Oxford.