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Urban Justice, Rural Injustice? Urbanization and Its Effect on Sentencing

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 24 Issue: 2 Dated: (May 1986) Pages: 367-390
Date Published
25 pages
Using a sample of felons convicted in Georgia between 1976 and June 1982, this study examines rural-urban differences in sentencing.

Consistent with previous research, it is found that ostensibly similar offenders are punished differently, depending on whether they were convicted in urban rather than rural counties. Differences in outcomes are based both on social background and on factors of explicit legal relevance. They occur for decisions about the type and duration of punishment. Finally, they persist even when selected correlates and consequences of urbanization are controlled. Unlike earlier research, however, this study finds that urbanization usually intensifies rather than reduces differential treatment. The paper concludes with possible explanations for the particularism that appears to characterize urban rather than rural courts. Also considered are the theoretical and empirical implications of the findings. (Publisher abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1986