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Drug Sentencing in South Korea: The Influence of Case-Processing and Social Status Factors in an Ethnically Homogeneous Context

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 27 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2011 Pages: 378-397
Minsik Lee; Jeffery T. Ulmer; MiRang Park
Date Published
August 2011
20 pages
This study examined the sentencing procedures that exists in South Korea.
For several decades, researchers have studied sentencing outcomes in the United States and, to a much lesser extent, other Western countries. Although much research on punishment decisions focuses on Black, White and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic disparities, South Korea presents an opportunity to examine the role of extra-legal factors in criminal punishment in an ethnically homogeneous society. The authors investigate sentencing outcomes for drug offenses in South Korea, using data from the six largest cities in South Korea from 1997 to 2001. The authors find that legal factors connected to the offense and past criminal behavior of the offender primarily determined the length of sentences for Korean drug offenders. The authors also find that admitting guilt resulted in shorter sentences but that those represented by publically provided attorneys received modestly longer sentences. The authors also find males and older offenders receiving longer sentences. (Published Abstract)