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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Past Resources of the Week

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

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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