Ms Khadijah Manasseh

Research project: Towards an Understanding of Race and Sentencing


The intricate relationship between racial identity and legal sentencing is rife with unresolved complexities, research gaps, and inherent systemic biases across multiple legal jurisdictions. This scholarly inquiry aims to highlight the complex interplay between racial considerations and sentencing determinants in four countries underpinned by Common Law: Australia, Canada, England, and Wales. Utilising a rich interdisciplinary framework that combines case law analysis, jurisprudential analysis, and an exhaustive survey of extant scholarly works, the study undertakes a cross-jurisdictional investigation to explore how race, conceptualised as a social variable, permeates the structural underpinnings of the criminal justice apparatus to meaningfully impact sentencing outcomes.

The introductory chapters establish the theoretical underpinnings by detailing the historical genesis of racial inequalities within the chosen jurisdictions, thereby preparing the groundwork for a sophisticated analysis. This is succeeded by an exhaustive methodological exposition, delineating the comparative analytical strategy that serves as the intellectual scaffolding of this research endeavour. The ensuing chapters engage in an in-depth examination of pivotal themes, inclusive of, but not limited to, the confluence of race and gender, the prevalence of implicit biases within the judicial corps, and the influence of racial stereotypes on prosecutorial and judicial conduct.

Out of this meticulous scrutiny emerge three core revelations: Firstly, marginalised racial groups, specifically Indigenous communities in Australia and Canada and African and Caribbean populations in England and Wales, disproportionately experience more severe sentencing as compared to their white contemporaries. Secondly, structural elements like judicial latitude and prosecutorial inclinations often act as vehicles channelling racial disparities in sentencing outcomes, albeit veiled under the cloak of ostensibly neutral legal doctrines. Thirdly, the expressions of racial bias in sentencing exhibit noteworthy variations across the selected jurisdictions, highlighting the impact of region-specific sociopolitical contexts.

To summarise, this thesis asserts that the criminal justice mechanisms operating in Australia, Canada, England, and Wales are not passive observers to racial imbalances but are, in fact, contributing agents, albeit at differential magnitudes. It calls for an overhaul of existing sentencing protocols and judicial training initiatives, in addition to a comprehensive reassessment of institutional frameworks that perpetuate racial inequalities. In fulfilling these objectives, this research not only enriches scholarly dialogue but also proffers actionable policy directives aimed at engendering a more just and impartial criminal justice landscape.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Towards an Understanding of Race and Sentencing
  • Research supervisor: Dr Kevin Barker
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Philip Harris


Currently, I am a doctoral researcher in the department of Law.

My scholarly inquiries principally explore the systemic inequities in sentencing outcomes affecting Indigenous, African, and Caribbean communities across Australia, Canada, England, and Wales. Leveraging a multidisciplinary approach, my work coalesces around the robust framework of Critical Race Theory and engages deeply with comparative legal narratives. Through this lens, I am unearthing the underlying racial disparities that persistently manifest in judicial outcomes.

Beyond academic circles, I have dedicated over four decades to influencing public policy. My expertise has been widely sought in sectors as diverse as Criminal Justice, Youth Services, Social Work, and Education. My substantial policy contributions aim not merely to understand the status quo but to redress systemic inequalities and substantive change.

My academic and policy endeavors are further enriched by a dedicated focus on exposing the ways in which racism has been normalized within mainstream society. By delving into this often overlooked area, I seek to challenge and ultimately disassemble the social constructs that perpetuate racial injustices.

Areas of research interest

  • Sentencing
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Social Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Criminal Justice


  • LLM Human Rights
  • MA Christian Theology
  • PGD Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • BA Broadcast Journalism
  • BA Islamic Studies
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching with QTLS