Why do we keep acting surprised that racism is present? Race is a factor in everything, whether we like it or not, and the first step to resolving that is stop acting like it isn't. There is a presidential candidate building his entire campaign platform on racism and bigotry, so to think that race wouldn't be a factor in a a prison sentence is just insane.
The sentence that one receives if they are convicted of a crime should not be based on their social status, economic status, their gender or race. Punishment should be based solely on the evidence and the severity of the crime. Unfortunately, that is not always the case within our legal system. It is fair to say that some races receive more lenient sentences that individuals of other races for the same crime. We still have a long way to go when it comes to treating everyone equally.
Yes, race may be a factor in determining legal punishment. The Stanford rapist got far less time than he should have and many believe that it is because he is white. It seemed as though the judge felt the fact that he was white made his actions a lesser crime.
Yes, it seems race may be a factor in determining legal punishment. Our judicial system is set up so that each case is tried by an individual judge and or jury. Individuals are often biased in many ways, including racial biases. Those biases are going to show up in punishments. That's why we have an appeals system as well as other means to make up for possible bias and injustice.