Testing for Racial Prejudice in the Parole Board Release Process: Theory and Evidence

30 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012 Last revised: 29 Oct 2012

Shamena Anwar

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Hanming Fang

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 27, 2012

Abstract

We develop a model of a Parole Board contemplating whether to grant parole release to a prisoner who has finished serving their minimum sentence. The model implies a simple outcome test for racial prejudice robust to the inframarginality problem. Our test involves running simple regressions of whether a prisoner recidivates on the exposure time to the risk of recidivism and its square, using only the sample of prisoners who are granted parole release strictly between their minimum and maximum sentences and separately by race. If the coefficient estimates on the exposure time term differ by race, then there is evidence of racial prejudice against the racial group with the smaller coefficient estimate. We implement our test for prejudice using data from Pennsylvania from January 1996 to December 31, 2001. Although we find racial differences in time served, we find no evidence for racial prejudice on the part of the Parole Board based on our outcome test.

Keywords: Racial Prejudice, Statistical Discrimination, Outcome Test, Parole, Recidivism

JEL Classification: J71, K42

Suggested Citation

Anwar, Shamena and Fang, Hanming, Testing for Racial Prejudice in the Parole Board Release Process: Theory and Evidence (October 27, 2012). PIER Working Paper No. 12-028. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2109363 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2109363

Shamena Anwar

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Hanming Fang (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

160 McNeil Building
3718 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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