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

Posted: 16 Jun 2008

See all articles by Aleksandar Tomic

Aleksandar Tomic

Macon State College - Division of Business and Economics

Jahn Karl Hakes

Albion College; Albion College - Department of Economics and Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: spring 2008

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.

Keywords: K14, D70, D63

Suggested Citation

Tomic, Aleksandar and Hakes, Jahn Karl and Hakes, Jahn Karl, Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges (spring 2008). American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 110-141, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1145999 or http://dx.doi.org/ahn006

Aleksandar Tomic (Contact Author)

Macon State College - Division of Business and Economics ( email )

100 College Station Drive
Macon, GA 31206
United States
478-757-2675 (Phone)

Jahn Karl Hakes

Albion College - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)
517-629-0428 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.albion.edu/jhakes

Albion College ( email )

113 Robinson Hall
Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)

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