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The Unintended Consequences of Sentencing Reforms: Using Social Chain Theory to Examine Racial Disparities in Female Imprisonment
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice
  • Breanna Boppre, University of Nevada
  • Mark G. Harmon, Portland State University
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The current study uses social chain theory to examine the potential unintended effects of sentencing reforms on racial disparities in female imprisonment. Our analysis measures changes in the relative odds of Black to White female imprisonment using the Relative Rate Index (RRI) through panel regression modeling on 40 states from 1983 to 2008. Our final models indicate that four types of sentencing reforms had unintended perverse effects on racial disparities in prison admissions while Truth in Sentencing laws increased racial disparities in time-served. Eighteen combinations of sentencing reforms also significantly impacted disparities. Theoretical and policy implications are also discussed.

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Boppre, B., & Harmon, M. G. (2017). The Unintended consequences of sentencing reforms: Using social chain theory to examine racial disparities in Female imprisonment. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 15(4), 394-423.