State judicial systems, especially those in Florida, as highlighted in recent cases, lack the data and, therefore, transparency in sentencing. Because of this, understanding how judges sentence people of different backgrounds is difficult.
Data: the workhorse of transparency
Data and the transparency it can provide drive many policies and factors concerning how specific problems should be approached and solved. Unfortunately, the lack of data and consistent sentencing, which causes puzzling sentencing disparities, are prevalent throughout the United States. While there is an expectation that all judges will sentence someone appropriately without any bias, data suggests that is not the case. While data are not the means to the end, they are a stepping-stone towards better understanding how not only a judge may sentence alleged criminals in a jurisdiction, but also disparities across the state.
Standardization and evaluation may provide a path forward
Since jurisdiction within a single county or state may not have a standardized method of sentencing, it is no wonder that there are disparities. Recent data suggests that what was once an empirically validated, long-held belief of racial discrepancies in the justice system do, in fact, exist. Standardizing a method of sentencing, evaluating the method by which the sentencing occurred, and then logging the metrics within a centralized system may help provide further insight. Furthermore, these efforts may produce a data-driven change for the better that allows for a more level playing field for the alleged criminals who are in the judicial system.
Defense against sentencing disparities
Defending yourself against unfair treatment due to your socioeconomic standing, race or some other factor is difficult. Consider working with a trained and qualified criminal defense attorney to be your eyes, ears and support for the broader understanding of how alleged criminals are being treated and sentenced as he or she may be able to help level the sentencing playing field.