“Escape” From Punishment

Exploring the Sealing of a Criminal Record and Potential Disparities in Its Application

Authored by: Megan C. Kurlychek , Heather M. Washington

Handbook on Punishment Decisions

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138221475
eBook ISBN: 9781315410371
Adobe ISBN:


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The criminal justice literature has a long tradition of studying sentencing as the final form of punishment meted out by the criminal justice system including both empirical studies of large administrative data sets to explore trends in sentencing and localized ethnographic accounts that detail how judges and court-room work groups work together to determine sentencing outcomes as a form of punishment. From early studies by Eisenstein and Jacob (1977) that detail the intricate dance between prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge to determine “going rates” at sentencing, to an explosion of literature in the 1980s forward that focuses more specifically on the potential for resulting gender and racial biases at sentencing outcomes (see Mitchell, 2005, Ulmer, 2012, and Zatz, 2000, for reviews of the literature), criminological literature is indeed rich in studies of judicial decision-making at the sentencing stage.

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