This study aims to alleviate some of the mixed findings throughout the literature on racial disparities in sentencing outcomes by utilizing propensity score matching and multilevel modeling to assess racial drug sentencing disparities in state courts from 2000–2012. The findings illustrate the effect of race on sentencing varies significantly across states, and aggregate factors impact this relationship. Specifically, although differential offending, minority population, and arrests do not alleviate disparities, they are moderators that explain variance across states. Finally, aggregate socioeconomic factors such as poverty and education are also significant moderators that indicate the importance of structural disadvantage in sentencing outcomes.
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