For Women, Darker Skin Tone Means Longer Prison Sentences

X63248-02Racial bias in our criminal justice system isn’t a binary matter, with different treatment for blacks versus whites — rather, a new study suggests that it is a sliding scale, in which severity of punishment increases proportionally as skin color becomes darker. Via the Root:

Villanova researchers studied more than 12,000 cases of African-American women imprisoned in North Carolina and found that women with lighter skin tones received more-lenient sentences and served less time than women with darker skin tones.

The researchers found that light-skinned women were sentenced to approximately 12 percent less time behind bars than their darker-skinned counterparts. Women with light skin also served 11 percent less time than darker women.

The study took into account the type of crimes the women committed and each woman’s criminal history to generate apples-to-apples comparisons. The work builds on previous studies by Stanford University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and other institutions, which have examined how “black-looking” features and skin tone can impact black men in the criminal-justice arena.

Researchers say this is the first study to look at how colorism affects black women and how long they may spend in jail. Part of the reason may simply come down to how pretty jurors consider a defendant to be, and that being light-skinned and thin (also a factor studied in the research) are seen as more attractive, says Lance Hannon, co-author of the Villanova study.

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  • DeepCough

    I’d say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” but that would imply that things have changed in the South.

  • DeepCough

    I’d say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” but that would imply that things have changed in the South.

  • SF2K01

    Sentencing is often too subjective to begin with. I’m guessing people are going to be harsher on those they can identify with an other group and ask for a stricter punishment.

  • Anonymous

    Sentencing is often too subjective to begin with. I’m guessing people are going to be harsher on those they can identify with an other group and ask for a stricter punishment.

  • Jin The Ninja

    being multi-racial, i ,personally, know that there are levels of racial “hierarchy” that play out in mainstream western society. in the US there is an even stranger dynamic based on perceived “quadroonness” or lightness of skin.

    racism is not just person-to-person perception, in fact on the contrary it is a codified, institutional oppression in its pervasive form. this form never went away. the discussion surrounding it did. we lost some ability to redress or even address racism and oppression during the media dubbed “post racial age.” This was nothing but a pure gimmick particularly in white “liberal” circles to minimise historical complicity in racial oppression.

    neo-liberal capitalism is post-racial in that it doesn’t really “care” if you are a minority- rather it fortifies the pre-existing conditions for oppression and solidifies the hierarchy of power already in place. Small steps will never be enough to fully bear off the weight of historical and contemporary hierarchies (racial or otherwise). I fully agree with radical theorists that in order to move towards a more egalitarian society- we must abandon fully capitalism in and the legal systems that accompany it- in order to be a more just world.

  • http://profiles.google.com/saintzedofourlostyouth R Z

    being multi-racial, i ,personally, know that there are levels of racial “hierarchy” that play out in mainstream western society. in the US there is an even stranger dynamic based on perceived “quadroonness” or lightness of skin.

    racism is not just person-to-person perception, in fact on the contrary it is a codified, institutional oppression in its pervasive form. this form never went away. the discussion surrounding it did. we lost some ability to redress or even address racism and oppression during the media dubbed “post racial age.” This was nothing but a pure gimmick particularly in white “liberal” circles to minimise historical complicity in racial oppression.

    neo-liberal capitalism is post-racial in that it doesn’t really “care” if you are a minority- rather it fortifies the pre-existing conditions for oppression and solidifies the hierarchy of power already in place. Small steps will never be enough to fully bear off the weight of historical and contemporary hierarchies (racial or otherwise). I fully agree with radical theorists that in order to move towards a more egalitarian society- we must abandon fully capitalism in and the legal systems that accompany it- in order to be a more just world.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    There is even a certain form of racism among some African Americans who place certain prejudices on how dark or light skinned a person is. A friend of mine used to call light skinned people “high yella” (yellow). “Gray boy” is another term I’ve heard. Dark skinned folks do seem to take more flack, even from each other.

    Sad that such prejudice largely created by “whitey” has such a deep impact on some peoples esteem for themselves and each other. 

    • Hadrian999

      skin color works some crazy mojo, take the Philippines, having dark skin is dreaded there, skin lightening cosmetics are big business there, i have a Philippine girlfriend that apologizes for having dark skin, and if you look at most popular celebrities(besides Manny) there they barely look Philippine, the whole thing is so crazy people discriminate against themselves

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      I know man. Got a friend from LA…philosophy professor…black…but medium skin tone. Her father was very dark complected, her mother from a very light complected family. Her mother was nearly disowned for marrying a darker skinned man…which sounds insane when you remember that both families were essentially black Americans…but there you have it. When she told me stories of the culture clashes and color wars inside her own family…I shook my head in amazement.

      • GoodDoktorBad

        What’s equally ironic is that so many white people want to get a dark tan. It seems that everybody hates themselves and nobody seems to realize that achieving some crazy ideal of physical beauty doesn’t qualify  as self improvement.   

        Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, too bad the beholders spend so much time poking needles into their  corneas. 

        Mario sez: “I Love ME, fuck ya’all “ lol

    • Kevin

      It’s also sad (and telling) that you claim prejudice was largely created by “whitey”…

      • GoodDoktorBad

        Oh boy, here we go…. no, prejudice itself was not created by “whitey”. Prejudice is an equal opportunity evil. 

        I am “whitey” and even I know the effect that slavery has had on the psyche of, in this case, some African Americans. It’s undeniable. The old days bring the new days.  Low self esteem and other attitudes are passed down from parent to child, generation after generation. We can only hope that some will escape the pattern. This goes for all races.  So, whats your beef? If my words are so “telling”, please enlighten us with your wisdumb, Kevin.   

      • Tuna Ghost

        Ah, technically he said such prejudice was created by whitey, not all prejudice.  Big difference.  And as far as what he actually wrote, he is absolutely correct.  

        • GoodDoktorBad

          Holy shit.  Who are you? Is this love -Tuna? 

          Hate, properly channeled, does wonders. 

          Smoooooches

          • Tuna Ghost

            I’ll defend anyone from poor reading and reasoning, Herr Doktor, even yourself

  • Anonymous

    There is even a certain form of racism among some African Americans who place certain prejudices on how dark or light skinned a person is. A friend of mine used to call light skinned people “high yella” (yellow). “Gray boy” is another term I’ve heard. Dark skinned folks do seem to take more flack, even from each other.

    Sad that such prejudice largely created by “whitey” has such a deep impact on some peoples esteem for themselves and each other. 

  • Curumim

    Here in Brazil it only takes you being poor for more time in jail, and the more rich you are more are the chances for you go free impune (or usualy running away to europe). But the treatment from the police still is the same racialy biased as you are, only wich the more black and/or poor you are the more chance to get the atention from the cops and if you are mixed or white and/or rich the chance to be left in peace.

  • Curumim

    Here in Brazil it only takes you being poor for more time in jail, and the more rich you are more are the chances for you go free impune (or usualy running away to europe). But the treatment from the police still is the same racialy biased as you are, only wich the more black and/or poor you are the more chance to get the atention from the cops and if you are mixed or white and/or rich the chance to be left in peace.

  • Hadrian999

    skin color works some crazy mojo, take the Philippines, having dark skin is dreaded there, skin lightening cosmetics are big business there, i have a Philippine girlfriend that apologizes for having dark skin, and if you look at most popular celebrities(besides Manny) there they barely look Philippine, the whole thing is so crazy people discriminate against themselves

  • Tuna Ghost

    Reminds me of the hullabuloo regarding Beyonce Knowles becoming the Face of Loreal…it seems that the photographs for the advertisements featuring Beyonce, who is widely regarded as one of the most attractive women in pop music today, were photoshopped to the effect that her skin was lightened several tones.  Its as if the people in charge thought “hmmm, she’s beautiful, she’s sexy, the makeup looks good on her, but she’s still…hmmm….still too black.  Is there something we can do about that?”

    A preview of a documentary titled “Dark Girls”, about this very subject:   http://vimeo.com/24155797

    • Tuna Ghost

      Damn that scene with the little girl pointing out “the dumb child” and “the ugly child” out of a sequence of identical girls with different skin tones is just heart-breaking.  Ooof!

      • GoodDoktorBad

        Is it my imagination or has Tyra Banks grown a few shades lighter over the years? Perhaps it’s makeup and lighting. 

  • Tuna Ghost

    Reminds me of the hullabuloo regarding Beyonce Knowles becoming the Face of Loreal…it seems that the photographs for the advertisements featuring Beyonce, who is widely regarded as one of the most attractive women in pop music today, were photoshopped to the effect that her skin was lightened several tones.  Its as if the people in charge thought “hmmm, she’s beautiful, she’s sexy, the makeup looks good on her, but she’s still…hmmm….still too black.  Is there something we can do about that?”

    A preview of a documentary titled “Dark Girls”, about this very subject:   http://vimeo.com/24155797

  • Tuna Ghost

    Damn that scene with the little girl pointing out “the dumb child” and “the ugly child” out of a sequence of identical girls with different skin tones is just heart-breaking.  Ooof!

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I know man. Got a friend from LA…philosophy professor…black…but medium skin tone. Her father was very dark complected, her mother from a very light complected family. Her mother was nearly disowned for marrying a darker skinned man…which sounds insane when you remember that both families were essentially black Americans…but there you have it. When she told me stories of the culture clashes and color wars inside her own family…I shook my head in amazement.

  • Anonymous

    What’s equally ironic is that so many white people want to get a dark tan. It seems that everybody hates themselves and nobody seems to realize that achieving some crazy ideal of physical beauty doesn’t qualify  as self improvement.   

    Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, too bad the beholders spend so much time poking needles into their  corneas. 

    Mario sez: “I Love ME, fuck ya’all “ lol

  • Kevin

    Yes… Just ask Casey Anthony about this one.

    • Kungfumaster

      Our justice system means NOTHING if you can assume guilt just because you don’t like somebody or think they are “evil.”  There was no evidence.  Case closed.  It’s unfortunate the media whored that case out like that.  Even more unfortunate that people like you wanna see somebody you don’t even know burn for something you were not there for.

  • Kevin

    Yes… Just ask Casey Anthony about this one.

  • Kevin

    It’s also sad (and telling) that you claim prejudice was largely created by “whitey”…

  • Anonymous

    Oh boy, here we go…. no, prejudice itself was not created by “whitey”. Prejudice is an equal opportunity evil. 

    I am “whitey” and even I know the effect that slavery has had on the psyche of, in this case, some African Americans. It’s undeniable. The old days bring the new days.  Low self esteem and other attitudes are passed down from parent to child, generation after generation. We can only hope that some will escape the pattern. This goes for all races.  So, whats your beef? If my words are so “telling”, please enlighten us with your wisdumb, Kevin.   

  • Kungfumaster

    Our justice system means NOTHING if you can assume guilt just because you don’t like somebody or think they are “evil.”  There was no evidence.  Case closed.  It’s unfortunate the media whored that case out like that.  Even more unfortunate that people like you wanna see somebody you don’t even know burn for something you were not there for.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Ah, technically he said such prejudice was created by whitey, not all prejudice.  Big difference.  And as far as what he actually wrote, he is absolutely correct.  

  • Anonymous

    Holy shit.  Who are you? Is this love -Tuna? 

    Hate, properly channeled, does wonders. 

    Smoooooches

  • Anonymous

    Is it my imagination or has Tyra Banks grown a few shades lighter over the years? Perhaps it’s makeup and lighting. 

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’ll defend anyone from poor reading and reasoning, Herr Doktor, even yourself

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’ll defend anyone from poor reading and reasoning, Herr Doktor, even yourself