New Study Looks at Racial Disparity in Prison Sentencing - 8 News NOW

Mark Sayre, Reporter

New Study Looks at Racial Disparity in Prison Sentencing

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According to the University of Nevada Reno study, blacks received significantly higher minimum and maximum sentences than white defendants. According to the University of Nevada Reno study, blacks received significantly higher minimum and maximum sentences than white defendants.
"The findings, the preliminary findings, are entirely consistent with prior reports that have been issued here in the state of Nevada," said the ACLU's Gary Peck. "The findings, the preliminary findings, are entirely consistent with prior reports that have been issued here in the state of Nevada," said the ACLU's Gary Peck.

A new study of the Nevada justice system shows that blacks receive more prison time than whites for similar crimes. Lawmakers are reviewing the findings.

The study's authors say it could be the most comprehensive study ever of race and its relationship to justice here in Nevada. But at least one observer of the criminal justice system says the findings are anything but surprising.

Read a presentation about the study

If you are black and you are in Nevada's criminal justice system, the odds are not in your favor.

According to the University of Nevada Reno study, blacks received significantly higher minimum and maximum sentences than white defendants. This is true in all three categories of crimes studied, including grand larceny, conspiracy and burglary.

"We did find some interesting differences by gender and by race," said Dr. Jim Richardson with UNR.

Dr. Richardson is the Director of UNR's Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, "We are just now going to analyze the data using more sophisticated techniques to see if there are ways to explain the differences that we did find. For instance, the data we have does not include prior record and that could have some effect."

"The findings, the preliminary findings, are entirely consistent with prior reports that have been issued here in the state of Nevada," but the ACLU's Gary Peck says he does not believe any bias in the system is intentional on the part of prosecutors, judges or jurors.

"I think these are a product more of subconscious prejudices and biases that are in play in institutions throughout our society, including I might add, the ACLU. No one is immune from any of this and it makes, in some ways, the problem more pernicious and more difficult to deal with, in part because most people are people of good will," said Peck.

The report was delivered to the legislature's Commission on the Administration of Justice. That panel will ultimately take the information and make recommendations for possible changes to state law at the next session of the legislature.

The researchers at UNR say they have not yet finalized their work. They are busy gathering more data and hope to have a more definitive report out by October.

Email your comments to Reporter Mark Sayre

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