Data Dialogue: Analyzing Racial Equity and Bias of Federal Judges through Inferred Sentencing Records

Sep 10

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Friday, September 10, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Dr. Veronica Ciocanel

The US public has a constitutional right to access criminal trial proceedings. In practice, it is difficult to exercise this right as well as to quantitatively study federal sentencing disparities. We have assembled a public database of criminal sentence decisions made in federal district courts called JUSTFAIR: Judicial System Transparency through Federal Archive Inferred Records. This large-scale database links information about defendants with information about their federal crimes and sentences, and, crucially, with the identity of the sentencing judge. I will discuss challenges associated with assembling this database as well as work and observations from studying sentencing equity and patterns of federal judges. Short bio: Dr. Veronica Ciocanel received her B.S. in Mathematics from Duke University and her M.S. and PhD in Applied Mathematics from Brown University. She has completed her postdoctoral training at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at The Ohio State University, where she was awarded a President's Postdoctoral Scholar fellowship. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Mathematics, with a joint appointment in Biology, at Duke University. Her current research interests involve understanding intracellular transport and organization mechanisms using dynamical systems, stochastic processes, and data analysis. She also works with collaborators from QSIDE ( on questions related to criminal justice, in particular federal sentence disparities and transparency.