Assessing the impact of Mexican nativity on sentence length

Erin A. Orrick, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Discussions about race/ethnicity and crime are controversial and not surprisingly, such controversies have extended to the immigration–crime link as well. The emerging quantitative knowledge base on this relationship however suggests that immigrant status may actually serve as a protective factor against (serious) criminal involvement. Largely absent from this line of research has been a consideration of how immigrant status, especially Mexican nativity, is related to criminal justice sentencing decisions. In this article, we use data from more than 12,000 U.S. state and federal prisoners to examine sentence length disparities between Mexican- and native-born citizens. Our primary finding is that while there may be some impact of being Mexican born on sentence length, the negligible differences indicate that offenders who are Mexican born are likely to receive shorter sentences than their native-born counterparts, controlling for a variety of legal and extralegal factors. Directions for future research are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-664
Number of pages22
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • crime
  • immigration
  • Mexican nativity
  • sentencing

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