Lawmakers Want To Track Disparities In Sentencing

Jan 19, 2017

Credit Carol Highsmith via Wikimedia Commons

In the past year journalists and researchers have highlighted the ongoing problem of disparities in sentencing—often falling most heavily on black and brown communities.  Now a Jacksonville Democrat is pushing for greater accountability.

Reporting last year from the Sarasota Herald Tribune shows minority defendants often receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts. But it took a year’s worth of work scouring two large state databases.  Now Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) has filed a measure to improve transparency in tracking outcomes.

“The bill says OPPAGA will gather that data,” Gibson says, “make sure it’s by judge and then send it to the judges, send it to the Legislature and post it on their website for the public to have availability to it.”

OPPAGA or the office of program policy analysis and government accountability is the state legislature’s research arm. 

In addition to publishing information the measure gives standing for defendants to request a new judge based on sentencing disparities.