Gender Favoritism Among Criminal Prosecutors

Stephanie Holmes Didwania, Gender Favoritism Among Criminal Prosecutors, Journal of Law and Economics (Forthcoming)

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1734

48 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2021

Date Written: December 7, 2021

Abstract

Prosecutors enjoy wide discretion in the decisions they make but are largely unstudied by quantitative empirical scholars. This paper explores gender bias in prosecutorial decision-making. I find that male and female prosecutors exhibit small and statistically insignificant differences in their treatment of defendants overall but demonstrate relative leniency towards defendants of their own gender. Such favoritism at charging translates into a sentencing gap of roughly five months of incarceration for defendants who are paired with an own-gender prosecutor versus an opposite-gender prosecutor, which represents a roughly eight percent reduction in sentence length at the mean. The estimates do not appear to be driven by differences in case assignments for male and female prosecutors.

Keywords: prosecutor, bias, in-group favoritism, charging

JEL Classification: K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

Suggested Citation

Didwania, Stephanie Holmes, Gender Favoritism Among Criminal Prosecutors (December 7, 2021). Stephanie Holmes Didwania, Gender Favoritism Among Criminal Prosecutors, Journal of Law and Economics (Forthcoming), Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1734, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3979913

Stephanie Holmes Didwania (Contact Author)

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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