Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges

40 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2004

See all articles by Aleksandar Tomic

Aleksandar Tomic

Macon State College - Division of Business and Economics

Jahn Karl Hakes

Albion College - Department of Economics and Management; Albion College

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2, 2007

Abstract

Prior research has produced conflicting evidence of racial profiling during traffic stops. We instead analyze rates of case dismissal against felony arrestees by race. At the arrest stage, superficial bias based on "unobservables" should be reduced due to the evidentiary requirements and non-negligible costs of filing charges. Nonetheless, we produce and empirically test a model that predicts higher rates of false arrests (and subsequent dismissals) for blacks for crimes where police are required to make snap judgments. Using data from over 58,000 U.S. felony cases from 1990-1998, our probit analysis finds higher dismissal rates for blacks charged with minor violent crimes and crimes where police have more discretion over whether to make an arrest, which points to more aggressive policing of blacks in these situations. Case dismissal rates are also elevated for both whites and blacks when blacks are under-represented on local police forces.

Keywords: Racial profiling, arrests, criminal case dismissals, judicial selection

JEL Classification: K14, D70, D63

Suggested Citation

Tomic, Aleksandar and Hakes, Jahn Karl and Hakes, Jahn Karl, Case Dismissed: Police Discretion and Racial Differences in Dismissals of Felony Charges (July 2, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=618122 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.618122

Aleksandar Tomic (Contact Author)

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

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

Jahn Karl Hakes

Albion College - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)
517-629-0428 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.albion.edu/jhakes

Albion College ( email )

113 Robinson Hall
Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)

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