The effect of offender race and ethnicity on sentencing outcomes for cocaine and crack offenses in Texas

Guadalupe Corral-Camacho, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Unfortunately, the main focus in research concerning criminal offenses has typically been on the direct effects of offender race/ethnicity on sentencing without taking into consideration the complexities of how racial and ethnic dynamics fit into the larger social context. For example, the Irish might have been portrayed as a threat to the moral and economic values of society a century ago (because of immigration rates and their perceived link to alcohol). However, throughout most of the latter half of the past century, African Americans (due to the perceived threat the Civil Rights movement posed to the status quo and later their link to crack-cocaine) were probably viewed as the larger threat. More recently, Hispanics might be seen as a major threat because of immigration rates and their perceived link to marijuana and heroin and may therefore be treated more harshly than non-Hispanic Whites by the justice system. ^ Based on the accumulated findings, it becomes important to look at whether sentencing outcomes are affected by race/ethnicity and, if so, whether offender gender, crime type, and social context, by way of ethnic composition of region in which offense took place, affect this relationship. Therefore, this study does not simply test whether racial discrimination is present in the criminal justice system; more specifically it tests whether offender race/ethnicity affects the sentencing outcomes of drug offenders by looking at powder cocaine and crack cocaine related convictions in Texas, a racially and ethnically heterogeneous state with substantial across-county variation. By looking at convictions for specific drugs, within specific racial/ethnic contexts, more appropriate conclusions can be drawn about whether and when offender race/ethnicity influences sentencing outcomes. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Corral-Camacho, Guadalupe, "The effect of offender race and ethnicity on sentencing outcomes for cocaine and crack offenses in Texas" (2005). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1428066.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1428066

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