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Exploring the origin of sentencing disparities in the Crown Court: Using text mining techniques to differentiate between court and judge disparities

Pina-Sánchez, Jose, Grech, Diana, Brunton-Smith, Ian and Sferopoulos, Dimitrios (2019) Exploring the origin of sentencing disparities in the Crown Court: Using text mining techniques to differentiate between court and judge disparities Social Science Research, 84, 102343. pp. 1-13.

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Abstract

Research on sentence consistency in England and Wales has focused on disparities between courts, with differences between judges generally ignored. This is largely due to the limitations in official data. Using text mining techniques from Crown Court sentence records available online we generate a sample of 7,212 violent and sexual offences where both court and judge are captured. Multilevel time-to-event analyses of sentence length demonstrate that most disparities originate at the judge, not the court-level. Two important implications follow: i) the extent of sentencing consistency in England and Wales has been underestimated; and ii) the importance attributed to the location in which sentences are passed – in England and Wales and elsewhere - needs to be revisited. Further analysis of the judge level disparities identifies judicial rotation across courts as a practice conducive of sentence consistency, which suggests that sentencing guidelines could be complemented with other, less intrusive, changes in judicial practice to promote consistency.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Pina-Sánchez, Jose
Grech, Diana
Brunton-Smith, IanI.R.Brunton-Smith@surrey.ac.uk
Sferopoulos, Dimitrios
Date : November 2019
Funders : National Centre for Research Methods
DOI : 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2019.102343
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Uncontrolled Keywords : Sentencing disparities; Crown Court; Court cultures; Cross-classified multilevel model; Data scraping; Text mining
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 09 Sep 2019 15:15
Last Modified : 12 Dec 2019 14:38
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/852592

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