Racial Patterns in Approval of Felony Charges

62 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022 Last revised: 31 Dec 2022

See all articles by Andrew Jordan

Andrew Jordan

Washington University in St. Louis

Date Written: December 22, 2022


I study felony review prosecutors in Cook County, who are tasked with early detection of low-quality cases. Prosecutors vary in both their “strictness” and their ability to correctly identify case quality. My model and estimation strategy accounts for both types of variation, including a novel technique for estimating the prevalence of convictable cases. Felony review generates positive selection, but some prosecutors underperform. Controlling for selection, cases brought against black suspects are less likely to result in convictions. Prosecutors also approve fewer convictable cases with black suspects. My estimates show modest effects of prosecutor preferences only when signaling distributions are constrained.

JEL Classification: D81, J15, K42

Suggested Citation

Jordan, Andrew, Racial Patterns in Approval of Felony Charges (December 22, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4093128 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4093128

Andrew Jordan (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

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