Manafort's wheelchair (and other factors) might have helped

White privilege.

That's what some critics are saying about Paul Manafort's lenient 47-month sentence, handed down by Judge T. S. Ellis on Thursday in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The U.S. Probation Department calculated Manafort's sentencing range under the federal Sentencing Guidelines at 235-293 months, or 19.6-24.4 years. The prosecution agreed and recommended the same "Guidelines" sentence.

But Ellis disagreed and handed down a comparatively light sentence: 188 months lower than the low end of the guidelines range.

White privilege? Maybe. But Manafort's race did not have the same measurable effect on his sentence as did other factors: his wealth, age and health.

The federal Sentencing Guidelines do not allow a judge to consider race as a factor. But they do permit the judge to consider age and health in certain circumstances.

Age and health are not ordinarily relevant in determining whether a lower sentence is warranted. But, if a defendant is uniquely physically impaired or of advanced age, a judge has the authority to determine an appropriate sentence.

At the age of 69, Manafort has a remaining life expectancy of 14.98 years, according to the actuarial life tables of the Social Security Administration. Studies also show that each year in prison produces a 15.6 percent increase in the odds of death for parolees, or a 2-year decline in life expectancy for each year served in prison.

Related: Paul Manafort indicted in Russia probe

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U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Kevin Downing (C), attorney for President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort (L) leaves U.S. Federal Court after being arraigned on twelve federal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort (L) leaves U.S. Federal Court after being arraigned on twelve federal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, one focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, hides behind his car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort uses a sun visor to block the view of photographers as departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 2: Ex Trump campaign official Paul Manafort, center, departs U.S. District Court with his attorney Kevin Downing, left, on November, 02, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, walks out of the U.S. Courthouse after a bond hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Manafort, 68, an international political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to U.S. authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts. Both pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Former Donald Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Thursday November 02, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort faces several charges. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen arrive at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse for a bail hearing November 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty Monday to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: Kevin Downing, attorney of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, arrives at a U.S. District Court House November 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are scheduled to be back in court for a bond hearing this morning after they pleaded not guilty on October 30 to charges in a 12-count indictment, ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, right, arrives to the U.S. Courthouse for a bond hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Manafort, 68, an international political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to U.S. authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts. Both pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse after a court hearing on the terms of his bail and house arrest on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Richard Gates arrives at the Prettyman Federal Court Building for a hearing November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Gates and former business partner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort both pleaded not guilty Monday to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Kevin Downing, who is an attorney for Paul Manafort exits the William B. Bryant Annex United States Courthouse after Manfort was indicted on several charges on Monday October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort gets into his car after leaving federal court, October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House after being charged October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy and money laundering after the Justice Department unveiled the first indictments in the probe into Russian election interference. Manafort, 68, and business partner Rick Gates, 45, both entered not guilty pleas in a Washington court after being read charges that they hid millions of dollars they earned working for former Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow political party. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, right, exits the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. The federal investigation into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russia took a major turn Monday as authorities charged three people a former campaign chief, his business associate and an ex-policy adviser -- with crimes including money laundering, lying to the FBI and conspiracy. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Manafort wisely appeared at his sentencing in a wheelchair, frailties on full display. It's almost a trope from mob movies, but putting on a show of a defendant's poor health at sentencing might subconsciously persuade a judge that the Bureau of Prisons is not the safest place for a sick or elderly offender.

Any sentence over five years, according to the data, is therefore a life sentence for Manafort. Ellis also may have considered that the rates of recidivism for offenders over 60 is just 16 percent. (Of course, the counter to that argument is that Manafort just committed new crimes just months ago, so he falls within that 16 percent.)

The Guidelines do not permit a judge to consider wealth as a mitigating factor, but wealth directly and observably influences sentencing.

Wealth correlates with education and education correlates with criminality, according to statistics. About one-third of federal offenders have not completed high school. Most (about 65 percent) have only a high school degree. But only about 8 percent are college graduates like Manafort.

Education also correlates with recidivism, or re-arrest rates. This is an important factor in sentencing. Offenders with less than a high school diploma have the highest recidivism rates (60.4 percent), followed by high school graduates (50.7 percent) and those with some college (39.3 percent). College graduates like Manafort are by far the least likely to reoffend (19.1 percent).

Wealth also allows for a more robust defense. Defendants with wealth are often able to marshal more impressive letters of recommendation for the judge, because they have been in positions of influence. Greater wealth also means more opportunity for charitable donations, which can impress a judge.

Ellis even observed on the record that Manafort had led a "otherwise blameless" life. Wealthy defendants have the ability to festoon their life résumé with good works in a way that poor defendants often cannot. Even though wealth is not a permissible consideration, it influences many other factors that have an indirect, but measurable, effect on the final sentence.

There are unquestionably racial disparities in federal sentencing. Sentences of black male offenders are generally longer than those of white male offenders. For example, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, black male offenders' sentences were up to 19 percent longer than those of white male offenders from 2012 to 2016. In Manafort's case, there's nothing to indicate the judge consciously considered the offender's race in meting out such a lenient sentence.

Of course, white collar crimes have long been criticized as featuring lesser sentences than street crimes. Manafort's crimes in the Eastern District of Virginia carried no mandatory minimum sentence. Additionally, the overall average sentence for fraud crimes is 35 months.

In the jurisdiction where Manafort was sentenced, the average fraud sentence is slightly higher than the average: 37 months. Manafort's case was more egregious than the average fraud case in part due to the massive dollar amounts involved, but, on the whole, fraud cases are sentenced less harshly than certain violent crimes or drug crimes, and well below Manafort's sentencing guidelines range.

By contrast, many "street" crimes do have mandatory minimum sentences, especially if a firearm or a certain quantity of drugs is involved. White collar crimes may not involve shootings or methamphetamines, but they often involve a greater financial loss to victims than a liquor store robbery.

Manafort's unusually low sentence was probably influenced in part by his age, his health, his education and his wealth.

White privilege? More likely "White Collar (Crime)" privilege.

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