Assessing the impact of deportable status on sentencing outcomes in a sample of state prisoners

Erin A. Orrick, Kiersten Compofelice, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Much of the existing discussion surrounding the immigration-crime link has been influenced by public perceptions of the criminality of illegal immigrants. Recent empirical studies, however, suggest that immigrant status may instead operate as a protective factor, shielding immigrants from (serious) criminal offending. Rarely investigated is the extent to which illegal immigration, construed as deportability status, relates to criminal justice sentencing decisions. Using data from a cohort of inmates incarcerated for a new offense during 2008 in a large southern state, this study examines the impact of a federal immigration detainer on sentence length and type, controlling for a variety of legal and extralegal factors. Using propensity score matching, results indicate that inmates with federal immigration detainers received significantly shorter sentences compared to non-deportable inmates. No significant difference was found in the likelihood of receiving a life or death sentence between inmates with and without immigration detainers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • citizenship status
  • deportable
  • Immigration
  • offending
  • sentencing

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