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An Analysis of Black-White Racial Differences in Public Support for Nonviolent Sentencing Reform

NCJ Number
Race and Justice Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: 2020 Pages: 456-479
Date Published
24 pages

I examine public support for sentencing reform for nonviolent offenders situated within a justice reinvestment context. 



I analyze data from a survey administered to a nationally representative sample of White and Black Americans. I pay particular attention to differences in support between the two races, and I analyze the degree to which ideological beliefs explain interracial differences. I find that a larger number of both Black and White people support, rather than oppose, sentencing property and drug offenders to community-based sanctions instead of prison, but the likelihood that a person will express support or opposition is related to several ideological beliefs and demographic characteristics. I find that racism and the belief that the criminal justice system is fair mediate the relationship between race and support for sentencing property offenders to community-based sanctions, but race continues to exert an independent effect in regard to sentencing drug offenders. (Publisher abstract provided)


Date Published: January 1, 2020