June 4, 2011


Posted in African American women at 9:49 AM by minoritybrief

The Sentencing Project

A recent study, “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders,” by Jill Viglione, Lance Hannon, and Robert DeFina of Villanova University assesses how perceived skin tone is related to the maximum prison sentence and time served for a sample of over 12,158 black women imprisoned in North Carolina between 1995 and 2009. The authors controlled for factors such as prior record, conviction date, prison misconduct, and being thin, as well as whether the woman was convicted of homicide or robbery since these crimes usually carry lengthy prison sentences. With regard to prison sentences, their results indicated that women deemed to have light skin are sentenced to approximately 12% less time behind bars than their darker skinned counterparts. The results also show that having light skin reduces the actual time served by approximately 11%.

The authors conclude by urging people to understand that it is not sufficient to understand racial discrimination in terms of relative advantages of whites compared to non-whites. Among blacks, characteristics associated with whiteness appear to also have a significant impact on important life outcomes.

Viglione, Jill, Lance Hannon, and Robert DeFina. 2011. “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders.” The Social Science Journal, 48:250-258.



  1. johnie chase said,

    What else is new They keep doing the same studies since the 50’s. Now the emphasis is consumer driven to be skinny, long haired, lighter skinned. Just flash the image onto a hand held device and have the blog that tells you what is right and good. Instant memories, instant success and no struggle because all one has to do is by the product and you’ll be set free.
    Of course the real world is aging. Television in HDTV means ten more pounds and the real face of age shows up even more in those life lines that now only special HDTV makeup can hide. Buy fake hips, tits, butts, calves, lips, hair and any other part one needs to look fifteen for life. Throw in the competition from third world women that have long hair naturally and skin tone and life is even more a bitch.
    I’m sorry to use derogatory tones and cuss words but happiness and piece of mind, particularly when dealing with white people who have created this false world of happy consumerism that makes me laugh and cry. The way of thinking from a Library of thought, to a cell phone for knowledge, is mind boggling. Being Black is bottled in thirty-six shades. Flowing and long, luxurious and clean. Even though the reality is dyed fried, twisted, ruined at the root, chemicalized to cause who knows what with prolonged use but accepted as normal. There’s nothing normal about it.
    Black is beautiful and so is everything else if given the chance. The Motherland is not sold in a bottle or weaved in a piece of third world hair. It is not breeded by consumerism in a light skinned child or breeded out by having a lighter skinned child. We are not our hair. We are who we are. That message is getting lost in the ads. No surgery can alter it. No product can hide or improve it. From the black doll tests done in the 1940s by Dr’s Kenneth and Maimie Clark, your DNA wins in the end. Unfortunately society is linked electronically to Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s truth when he said back in 1964 “the medium is the message”.
    Sad thought.

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