Determinants of Racial Disparities in Prosecutors’ Charging Decisions


Emma Harrington, Hannah Shaffer, William Murdock III, and Natalia Emanuel. In Preparation. “Determinants of Racial Disparities in Prosecutors’ Charging Decisions”.


We explore to what extent institutional discrimination contributes to observed racial disparities in prosecutors' cases. To assess this, we link prosecutor survey responses to administrative records from North Carolina's Superior Court. Our survey presents prosecutors with hypothetical cases to test how prosecutors (consciously or unconsciously) respond to past actions of police and statutes that have disparate impact on black men, while holding fixed true defendant conduct. By linking our survey results to administrative data, we test whether prosecutors' responses predict their historical charging decisions. This allows us to quantify how much racial gaps in prosecutors' charging decisions are influenced by these up-stream disparities. 
Last updated on 11/01/2020