The Impact of Neighborhood Status on Imprisonment for Firearm Offenses

Joshua H. Williams, Richard Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Burgeoning research on criminal case processing has revealed persistent effects of the race and ethnicity of defendants on case outcomes up to and including imprisonment. But prior studies have devoted relatively little attention to how the characteristics of the communities in which crimes are committed affect imprisonment and antecedent legal outcomes such as bail amount and pretrial detention. Guided by the group threat and focal concerns perspectives, the current study examines the impact of community racial and socioeconomic composition on the likelihood that African American male defendants are sentenced to prison rather than probation for firearm offenses in a large Midwestern city. We find that defendants arrested in neighborhoods with higher proportions of non-poor residents received higher bail and, in turn, spent more time in jail and were more likely to be sentenced to prison than those arrested in lower status neighborhoods. We find no significant effect of neighborhood racial composition on bail, pretrial confinement, or imprisonment. We recommend that the community context of crime receive high priority in future research on the impact of extralegal factors on imprisonment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-400
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.

Keywords

  • imprisonment
  • pretrial detention
  • sentencing

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