How Elected Judges Respond to the Racial Composition of Their Constituencies

21 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2006

See all articles by Rey Hernández-Julián

Rey Hernández-Julián

Metropolitan State College of Denver

Aleksandar Tomic

Macon State College - Division of Business and Economics

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

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

Hernandez-Julian, Rey and Tomic, Aleksandar, How Elected Judges Respond to the Racial Composition of Their Constituencies (March 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=890738 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.890738

Rey Hernandez-Julian (Contact Author)

Metropolitan State College of Denver ( email )

Student Success Building
890 Auraria Pkwy #310
Denver, CO 80217
United States

Aleksandar Tomic

Macon State College - Division of Business and Economics ( email )

100 College Station Drive
Macon, GA 31206
United States
478-757-2675 (Phone)

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