Race and imprisonment decisions in California

Science  16 Feb 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4944, pp. 812-816
DOI: 10.1126/science.2305254


Data were analyzed for 11,553 California offenders who in 1980 were convicted of assault, robbery, burglary, theft, forgery, or drug crimes. Whether an offender was given probation or sentenced to prison for such crimes could be predicted with about 80 percent accuracy from a combination of variables that described defendant and crime characteristics and criminal justice processing. The addition of race to the prediction equation for a given crime type did not improve the accuracy of the prediction. In addition, there was no evidence that other factors related to imprisonment (for example, number of conviction counts, going to trial) masked a relation between race and imprisonment. Race also was not related to the length of prison term imposed.