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Study shows that race strongly influences criminal sentencing

The bulging prison population in California illustrates the high incarceration rate within the United States, which has risen by 500 percent in 40 years. A study from the U.S Sentencing Commission revealed how race impacts the length of sentences. An analysis of sentencing data from 2012 to 2016 indicated that judges gave sentences to black men that were 19.1 percent longer than sentences for white men for the same crimes.

To judge how a violent history might influence sentences, the commission looked at data from fiscal year 2016. A violent past correlated with sentences for black men that were 20.4 percent longer than sentences for white men with similar histories. Researchers suggested that a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States in 2005 exacerbated these racial disparities. That decision gave judges the power to increase sentences if they believed that facts supported an enhanced sentence.

In general, black men face the highest chance of ending up in prison. According to the Sentencing Project, society locked up black men almost six times more often than white men. Among America's black men in their 30s, a full 10 percent were incarcerated on any given day.

Any person charged with a crime could experience serious consequences if convicted. The representation of an attorney might allow the person to create a criminal defense and potentially avoid a felony conviction. The person may ask an attorney for advice before answering questions from authorities. An attorney might also question the validity of evidence cited against a person, especially if it came from an unreliable informant or an unlawful search and seizure. The attorney could try to cast doubt on evidence when defending the person at trial or open negotiations with a prosecutor for a plea deal. With an attorney's support, a person might be able to get a plea deal for reduced charges.

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