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Is there evidence of differential sentencing?

Key Area:
Policing - Law Enforcement - Justice
Racism, Discrimination
10/01/2012 - 19:36
Short Answer

There is evidence of differential sentencing of French citizens and foreigners

Qualitative Info

In 2010 the research concerning the differential sentencing of French citizens and foreigners was published. According to this research, 67% of French citizens were condemned to prison sentences against 77% of foreigners in Lille and Lyon. In smaller towns (Avesnes-sur-Helpe, Villefranche-sur-Saône) the respective proportions are 86% and 90%. The research notes that employees are less often condemned to prison sentence.  However, foreigners without a job or prior conviction are condemned to prison sentence more frequently that French citizens with identical profile (80% vs. 54%). The judge is much more likely to find it necessary to condemn unemployed foreigners to imprisonment, especially if they have illegal status. If the judge doesn’t have any information on the strength of foreigner’s social ties in France, he finds this punishment reasonable as otherwise a foreigner would be likely to leave France and never serve his sentence.

Source: Léonard, T., 2010. Ces papiers qui font le jugement. Champ pénal / Penal field, nouvelle revue internationale de criminologie, (Vol. VII). Available at: [Accédé Septembre 27, 2010].

Groups affected/interested Migrants
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement
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