This report presents the results of an analysis of data on 11,553 offenders who were convicted in California in 1980 of assault, robbery, burglary, theft, forgery, or drug crimes. Using a combination of defendant and crime characteristics and criminal justice processing variables, the authors were able to predict with about 80 percent accuracy whether an offender was given probation or sentenced to prison for these crimes. Adding race to the prediction equation for a given crime type did not improve accuracy, nor was race shown to be related to the predicted sentence. Thus, the failure of race to contribute to predictive accuracy did not stem from any correlation between race and the variables that did predict these outcomes. Race also was not related to the length of prison term imposed. These findings, in contrast to those obtained before the full implementation of California's Determinate Sentencing Act, suggest that this act may foster racial equity in sentencing.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.
This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.