Study: Light-Skinned Black Women Receive Shorter Prison Sentences

Study: Light-Skinned Black Women Receive Shorter Prison Sentences

Villanova University concludes that the paler your complexion, the shorter time you receive and serve behind bars.

PUBLISHED ON : JUNE 22, 2011 / 02:47 PM

Researchers at Villanova University analyzed over 12,000 Black women imprisoned in North Carolina between 1995 and 2000 and concluded in a new study called “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders,” that Black women with light skin receive significantly shorter jail sentences than darker women.


The researchers found that lighter-skinned women were sentenced to approximately 12 percent less time behind bars than darker-skinned women. They also found that having light skin reduces the actual time served by 11 percent.


The researchers concluded that among Blacks, if you have features similar to those of whites, those characteristics will have a “significant impact” on life outcomes.


Other studies have also shown that in the 21st century, complexion still matters to some, however. In 2006, the University of Georgia conducted a study of 240 undergraduate students. Lead researcher and then-doctoral student Matthew Harrison found that dark-skinned African-Americans have a “distinct disadvantage when applying for jobs, even if they have resumes superior to lighter-skinned Black applicants.”


After years of discrimination against the entire Black race, it’s saddening to hear that the complexion of someone’s skin has an impact on how someone is viewed in society at large. Though 48 years ago this August Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream speech, it looks like those words can still be applied today.


Hopefully one day Blacks can live “in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”



(Photo: Rick Wilking/Landov)


Written by Danielle Wright


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