Black and Hispanic men are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts since the Supreme Court loosened federal sentencing rules, says a U.S. Sentencing Commission study reported by McClatchy Newspapers. The study reignited a long-running debate about whether federal judges need to be held to mandatory guidelines in order to stamp out inherent biases and dramatically disparate sentences.
The report analyzed sentences since the 2005 U.S. v. Booker decision gave federal judges much more sentencing discretion. The commission found that the racial difference in sentences peaked in 1999 with blacks receiving 14 percent longer sentences. By 2002, the commission found no statistical difference. After the Booker decision, “those differences appear to have been increasing steadily,” with black men receiving sentences that were up to 10 percent longer than those imposed on whites, the commission said. Using another method of analyzing the data, the study found black men received sentences 23 percent longer than white men’s.