Judicial Conference Ponders Sentencing Disparity

Judge Rubin Castillo (via 9th Circuit)

Judges and lawyers hunkered down at Kaanapali, Maui for the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference heard evidence that African-Americans and Hispanics are far more likely to be imprisoned and for longer periods than whites.

The panel of current and former judges told the conference that blacks received sentences 5 percent longer than whites, according to the 2010 U.S. Sentencing Commission report.

But dismaying to  Chicago’s U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, who served 11 years on the commission, was the lack of meaningful press and public attention the numbers received when they first became public, according to an account of the session published by the 9th Circuit.

“I am not aware of any other circuit that has taken up this issue in a plenary session,” Castillo told the conference.

The U.S. imprisons more people than any other nation in the world.  As of 2010, roughly 1.5 million inmates were being held in state and federal prisons, according to the courts.

Imprisonment of blacks is six times higher than whites, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The program included a slide presentation illustrating the findings.

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