African-American men served on average 19.1 percent longer prison sentences than white men for similar crimes between the years 2008 and 2016, according to a new study released Tuesday by the U.S Sentencing Commission.
The commission says the racial disparity in prison sentencing cannot be explained by an offender’s history of violence or other sentencing factors.
“After controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors, the Commission found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders, and that female offenders of all races received shorter sentences than White male offenders,” reads the study’s conclusion.
— SentencingCommission (@TheUSSCgov) November 14, 2017
“The Commission also found that prior violent crimes, as documented in an offender’s criminal history, do not significantly contribute to demographic differences in federal sentencing,” it adds.
The Hill added:
The study’s release comes just months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed Obama-era guidelines on sentencing, instructing prosecutors instead to charge suspects with the most serious crime possible. The Obama administration had sought to ease mandatory minimum sentences on non-violent drug crimes.
“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote in a memo in May. “This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency.”
Session’s move was strongly condemned by criminal justice reform advocates, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
“We should be treating our nation’s drug epidemic for what it is — a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy. This isn’t about legalizing drugs. It is about making the punishment more fitting and not ruining more lives,” Paul wrote in response.
“Each case should be judged on its own merits. Mandatory minimums prevent this from happening.”