The Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity recently published a study regarding the effects of racial discrimination on sentencing in federal criminal cases. The study sought to answer two questions:
(1) Which federal judges give the harshest sentence length penalty to Black defendants?
(2) Which federal judges give the harshest sentence length penalty to Hispanic defendants?
This study is not the first attempt to measure how implicit bias and discrimination impact sentencing. In 2004, a report funded by the DOJ looked at sentencing disparities, especially in systems using sentencing guidelines. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has also published statistics regarding racial, ethnic, and gender sentencing disparities at the federal level.
In this study, however, the authors listed every federal district judge that presided over criminal cases over a certain period of time and rated them based on their apparent discriminatory practices in sentencing black and Hispanic defendants. The study, according to the authors, was able to: “(1) replicate previous findings that aggregate, conditional racial disparities in sentence lengths are large, (2) show that judges vary considerably in estimated racial discrimination, and (3) list the federal judges who exhibit the clearest evidence of racial discrimination.”
The paper itself lists the “top ten” judges who discriminate the most against black and Hispanic defendants, but the study includes supplement materials that explain the study’s methodology, as well as a full list of all of the federal judges in each district and statistics reflecting the effect of racial discrimination on their sentencing practices.