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Crime Minimization and Racial Bias: What Can We Learn From Police Search Data?

Author

Listed:
  • Jeff Dominitz

    (Heinz School, Carnegie Mellon University)

  • John Knowles

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Are variations in the success rate of searches by race informative about racial bias if police are motivated by crime minimization rather than success-rate maximization? We show that the basic idea of extracting information from hit rates may still be valid, provided one can verify some simple restrictions on the joint distribution of criminality by race. We also extend these results to the case where the police minimize the rate of unpunished crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeff Dominitz & John Knowles, 2005. "Crime Minimization and Racial Bias: What Can We Learn From Police Search Data?," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-019, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:05-019
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kate Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2009. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 163-177, February.
    2. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2006. "An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 127-151, March.
    3. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2001. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 203-232, February.
    4. Charles F. Manski, 2006. "Search Profiling With Partial Knowledge of Deterrence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 385-401, November.
    5. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2006. "An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 127-151, March.
    2. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2007. "Discrimination in the Warplace: Evidence from a Civil War in Peru," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2007-10, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Huseyin Cavusoglu & Byungwan Koh & Srinivasan Raghunathan, 2010. "An Analysis of the Impact of Passenger Profiling for Transportation Security," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 58(5), pages 1287-1302, October.
    4. Olugbenga Ajilore & Shane Shirey, 2017. "Do #AllLivesMatter? An Evaluation of Race and Excessive Use of Force by Police," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 45(2), pages 201-212, June.
    5. Blumkin, Tomer & Margalioth, Yoram, 2008. "On terror, drugs and racial profiling," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 194-203, September.
    6. Förster, Manuel & Karos, Dominik, 2021. "From prejudice to racial profiling and back. A naἴve intuitive statistician's curse," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 644, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    7. Georgiou, Georgios, 2022. "Do correctional authorities treat all offenders equally? Evaluating the use of a risk assessment instrument," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    8. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi & Morgan Williams, 2024. "The nature, detection, and avoidance of harmful discrimination in criminal justice," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 43(1), pages 289-320, January.
    9. Sarath Sanga, 2009. "Reconsidering Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 1155-1159, December.
    10. Benjamin Feigenberg & Conrad Miller, 2020. "Racial Disparities in Motor Vehicle Searches Cannot Be Justified by Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 27761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Brady P. Horn & Jill J. Mccluskey & Ron C. Mittelhammer, 2014. "Quantifying Bias In Driving-Under-The-Influence Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 269-284, January.
    12. Trevor G. Gardner, 2014. "Racial Profiling as Collective Definition," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 2(3), pages 052-059.
    13. Minzner Max & Anderson Christopher M., 2013. "Do Warrants Matter?," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 169-196, September.
    14. Brock, William A. & Cooley, Jane & Durlauf, Steven N. & Navarro, Salvador, 2012. "On the observational implications of taste-based discrimination in racial profiling," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 66-78.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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