Travis Jones

Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Robert Brame

Second Advisor

John Burrow


The purpose of this study is to study the direct impact of race/ethnicity on sentencing of federal drug offenders. In order to accomplish this goal, an exact matching approach is utilized to generate strata containing white, black and Hispanic offenders who are matched based on relevant legal and extra-legal factors derived from focal concerns theory. The total sentences (i.e. fines, probation, incarceration, etc.) of matched offenders are then compared pairwise to determine which offender received the more severe sentence. The findings overall do not suggest that black and Hispanic offenders receive more severe sentences to comparable white offenders; however, drug types where I expect greater disparities suffer from low numbers of matches. This finding suggests an incomparability of the racial/ethnic groups in terms of the primary drug type. The findings are interpreted through the lens of focal concerns theory. In addition, the methodological appropriateness of using regression analysis when groups appear to be incomparable is discussed.