Explaining Sentence Severity in Large Urban Counties: A Multilevel Analysis of Contextual and Case-Level Factors

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Abstract

This study used hierarchical logistic modeling to examine the impact of legal, extralegal, and contextual variables on the decision to sentence felons to prison in a sample of large urban counties in 1996. None of the four contextual (county-level) variables—the level of crime, unemployment rate, racial composition, and region—increased the likelihood of a prison sentence, but 10 case-level factors, both legal and extralegal, and several macro-micro interaction terms were influential. These results demonstrate the importance of considering smaller geographic units (i.e., counties instead of states) and controlling for case-level factors in research on interjurisdictional differences in prison use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-207
Number of pages24
JournalThe Prison Journal
Volume84
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Copyright:
Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • contextual factors
  • county sentencing variations
  • hierarchical modeling
  • prison sentences

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