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The Effect of Own-Gender Juries on Conviction Rates

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  • Mark Hoekstra
  • Brittany Street

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which criminal conviction rates are affected by the similarity in gender of the defendant and jury. To identify effects, we exploit random variation in both the assignment to jury pools and the ordering of potential jurors. We do so using detailed administrative data on the juror selection process and trial proceedings for two large counties in Florida. Results indicate that own-gender juries result in significantly lower conviction rates on drug charges, though we find no evidence of effects for other charges. Estimates indicate that a one standard deviation increase in expected own-gender jurors (~10 percentage points) results in an 18 percentage point reduction in conviction rates on drug charges, which is highly significant even after adjusting for multiple comparisons. This results in a 13 percentage point decline in the likelihood of being sentenced to at least some jail time. These findings highlight how drawing an opposite-gender jury can impose significant costs on defendants, and demonstrate that own-gender bias can occur even in settings where the importance of being impartial is actively pressed on participants.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Hoekstra & Brittany Street, 2018. "The Effect of Own-Gender Juries on Conviction Rates," NBER Working Papers 25013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25013
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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