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Michigan Firearms Statute: Are There Racial/Ethnic Implications?

NCJ Number
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: 2006 Pages: 67-79
Charles J. Corley; Homer C. Hawkins
Date Published
13 pages
This study examined sentencing outcomes after the Michigan Firearms Statute became active in 1977 and the adoption of the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines in 1988.
The findings show that the demographic variables of age and race significantly influenced sentence length for the following crimes: possession of less than 50 grams of drugs, second-degree murder, possession of a short-barrel weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, armed robbery, carjacking, felonious assault, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with intent less than murder, and assault in the commission of armed robbery. Age was inversely associated with sentence length for those convicted of carjacking and assualt with intent less than murder. Older convicted offenders received less prison time. Mexican-Americans received longer sentences overall for total crimes committed, particularly second-degree murder and assault to do great bodily harms less than murder. African-American offenders received shorter sentences when convicted of second-degree murder, armed robbery, and assault with intent to commit murder. Blacks may possibly receive shorter sentences for personal offenses because their victims were usually other Blacks; whereas, Mexican-Americans received longer sentences because many of their victims were White. Despite the 1977 enactment of Michigan's Firearms Statute, which was intended to bring greater equity in sentencing, data show that race continues to influence sentencing for Blacks and Mexican-Americans. Study data were obtained from sentencing outcomes in Michigan's 54 circuit courts in 2001 for the aforementioned crimes. The sample consisted of 1,047 cases, which represented 71 percent of those sentenced under the firearms law. 3 tables and 15 references