Undergraduate Program
Client Project Challenge
Identifying Sentencing Biases in the Illinois Court System

QSIDE provided our team with a three-fold problem statement: collect data on the Illinois judiciary, analyze the data to reveal potential sentencing bias, and accurately visualize the data. Our client hopes that our efforts will encourage accountability among judges and ease the research process for any parties interested in the court system by consolidating the data into one place.

 The incarceration data set provided information on each person’s socially ascribed sex and race/ethnicity, sentencing county, accused crime, crime class, age group, z score of the natural log of the sentence length, and other miscellaneous information for all prison populations from 2005 to 2021. Additionally, our team provided data on all current Illinois judges with information about their socially ascribed race/ethnicity and sex, sentencing county, circuit court, and court assignment. We connected each judge to the sentencing county described in the incarceration data set. In combination, the data sets allow our team to estimate the judges responsible for the sentencing bias in each county, which meets our client’s goal of judicial accountability. Our team provided QSIDE with our collection of raw and cleaned data for Illinois’ incarcerated and judge populations, an R script of our models describing our major findings, and the R script and link for our Shiny App website. Additionally, our deliverables provide a template for future research in other states as the client can upload new data and publish new websites. Through this undertaking, we support our client and community in creating a more equitable justice system.

A full report on this project is available by request to

Team members: Sara Anglin, Joey Patronik, Sebastian Reid, Marina Siqueira, Andy Wen

Advisor:  Prof. Edward Malthouse