Racial Patterns in Approval of Felony Charges
62 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022 Last revised: 31 Dec 2022
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: Suggested Citation