Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Using a large and thorough dataset on felon arrests in the U.S., we find that the large racial gaps in the hold rates for pretrial release are explained by the racial gap in the probability of rearrest before trial for a violent crime. We find little evidence that the hold gap is related to enforcing drug laws. We find no evidence that black defendants are more likely to be rearrested for a violent crime, given that they commit one, thus the rearrest rate appears to be a valid tool for judges to use. We also consider, and reject, that the race results are spuriously driven by selection bias from using released inmates only to compute the probability of rearrest.