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Citizenship and Punishment The Salience of National Membership in U.S. Criminal Courts

  • Organization: American Sociological Review
  • Document Type: Brief/Motion Papers
  • Date Created: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
  • Submitted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
  • Attachment(s): LINK

Citizenship status is the most significant factor affecting U.S. federal court sentencing decisions, finds a study published in the American Sociological Review. “Compared to U.S. citizens, noncitizen offenders are over four times more likely to be incarcerated, and this effect is larger than the effects for race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, being convicted at trial, and any of the offense types,” write Michael T. Light, Michael Massoglia, and Ryan D. King. Noncitizens are also likely to be incarcerated for longer periods of time than citizens, with undocumented immigrants receiving the harshest penalties. The study, which has received media attention, is based on 2008 sentencing data and controls for other factors relevant to sentencing outcomes.

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