How Elected Judges Respond to the Racial Composition of Their Constituencies
21 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2006
Date Written: March 2006
We take advantage of the variation in the judicial selection system - some judges are appointed, while others are elected - to address how the racial composition of a district affects sentencing. We find that appointed and elected judges act differently, suggesting that bias in the way that the laws are written cannot explain the entire difference in sentencing between blacks and whites. We find that blacks are more likely to be incarcerated, and receive longer sentences, but this effect diminishes as the percentage of the population that is black rises for a black defendant facing an elected judge. A one standard deviation increase in blacks' share of county population is enough to obliterate the difference in sentence length.
Keywords: discrimination, judicial selection, sentencing
JEL Classification: J15, J7, K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation