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Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges

Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges Prior research has produced conflicting evidence of racial profiling during traffic stops. We instead analyze rates of case dismissal against felony arrestees by race. Superficial bias based on unobservables should be reduced because of the evidentiary requirements and nonnegligible costs of filing charges. Nonetheless, using data from over 58,000 US felony cases from 1990 to 1998, our probit analysis finds higher rates of dismissals for blacks for the subset of crimes that rely on police to make snap judgments. This suggests there may be more aggressive policing of blacks in these situations. Case dismissal rates are also elevated for both whites and blacks when blacks are underrepresented on local police forces. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Law and Economics Review Oxford University Press

Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Law and Economics Association. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org
Subject
Articles
ISSN
1465-7252
eISSN
1465-7260
DOI
10.1093/aler/ahn006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Prior research has produced conflicting evidence of racial profiling during traffic stops. We instead analyze rates of case dismissal against felony arrestees by race. Superficial bias based on unobservables should be reduced because of the evidentiary requirements and nonnegligible costs of filing charges. Nonetheless, using data from over 58,000 US felony cases from 1990 to 1998, our probit analysis finds higher rates of dismissals for blacks for the subset of crimes that rely on police to make snap judgments. This suggests there may be more aggressive policing of blacks in these situations. Case dismissal rates are also elevated for both whites and blacks when blacks are underrepresented on local police forces.

Journal

American Law and Economics ReviewOxford University Press

Published: Apr 10, 2008

Keywords: JEL Classification K14 D70 D63

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