A Test of Racial Bias in Capital Sentencing
We 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.
|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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- 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 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).
- 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.
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