Ethnicity And Custodial Sentencing

Julian V. Roberts and Jonathan Bild
Are sentencing outcomes different for ethnic minority defendants? Which ethnic groups attract the harshest sentences? Over the past 30 years a number of official reports have addressed the role of race and ethnicity in criminal justice decision-making. Although several studies have focused on sentencing, to date, no review or synthesis of these studies has been conducted.
Many questions remain unanswered. This report explores sentencing patterns for different offender profiles. The focus is upon trends emerging from court statistics over the period 2009-2019.
Two key issues emerge: ethnic disproportionality in criminal justice statistics and differential sentencing outcomes. Disproportionality is expressed by comparing the percentage of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals appearing at stages of the criminal justice system (e.g. arrest; charge; custodial admissions) to their proportion in the general population.
Differential sentencing compares the outcomes for categories of offender. This report concentrates on sentencing outcomes, and more specifically, on custody rates and prison sentence lengths.
Read the full report here.