A Test of Racial Bias in Capital Sentencing
AbstractWe propose a test of bias based upon patterns of judicial errors. We model the trial court as minimizing a weighted sum of type I and II errors. We define racial bias a situation where the weight depends on defendant/victim race. If the court is unbiased, the error rate should be independent of the combination defendant/victim race. We test this prediction using an original dataset on all capital appeals in 1973-1995. We find that in the first and last stage of appeal the probability of error is 3 and 9 percentage points higher for minority defendants who killed white (vs. minority) victims.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16981.
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “A Test for Racial Bias in Capital Punishment,” American Economic Review, Forthcoming 2014 (with Eliana La Ferrara).
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-05-07 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAW-2011-05-07 (Law & Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2011-05-07 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-URE-2011-05-07 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John J. Donohue III & Justin Wolfers, 2006.
"Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate,"
NBER Working Papers
11982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Donohue, John J & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," CEPR Discussion Papers 5493, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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