Harvard Law professors Crystal Yang and Alma Cohen conducted a study which analyzed federal data on more than 500,000 defendants. One of the study’s conclusions revealed that Black defendants receive longer sentences under GOP appointed judges than Democrat-appointed judges. GOP appointed judges also give women defendants shorter sentences than Democrat-appointed judges.

The authors explain, “These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.”

The report also states, “Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared with Democratic-appointed judges.”

Pointing to much needed intersectional analysis in race and gender studies, it is unclear how Black women, who would ostensibly fall within both opposing categories, specifically fair, although the study does say it compares female defendants “similar males” and Black defendants to “similar nonblacks.”

The study also noted that GOP appointees are tougher on crime over all, with sentences averaging 2.4 months longer than Democratic appointees.

The study analyzed the sentencing practices of an approximate 1,400 federal judges over a 15 year time period to understand the racial and gender gaps. The data adds to previous research that demonstrates Black maen serve longer sentences than white men for the same crimes.

However, both Yang and Cohen state they did not investigate whether sentences were warranted. They only studied the trends to identify the racial and gender gaps in sentencing practices.

The study concludes, “The precise reasons why these disparities by political affiliation exist remain unknown and we caution that our results cannot speak to whether the sentences imposed by Republican or Democratic-appointed judges are warranted or ‘right.'”