Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2008


Taylor & Francis


This paper examines the extent to which racial and ethnic disparities exist in the implementation of California's “Three Strikes and You're Out” law and whether racial and ethnic disparities vary by type of offense. Logistic regression analysis of individual-level data on over 171,000 California prison inmates indicates that African-Americans are more likely than whites and Latinos to receive third-strike sentences, even when legally relevant variables are controlled. The analysis also finds that Latino defendants are significantly less likely to receive third-strike sentences. The results also indicate that the black-white gap is greater for offenses known as “wobblers,” which can be filed as either felonies or misdemeanors than for offenses that must always be charged as felonies. Racial disparities are also greater for property and drug offenses than for violent crimes.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice in Fall 2008, available online:



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