CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gelbach & Bushway on Racial Discrimination in Bail Setting

Jonah B. Gelbach and Shawn D. Bushway have posted Testing for Racial Discrimination in Bail Setting Using Nonparametric Estimation of a Parametric Model on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Black defendants are assigned greater bail levels than whites accused of similar offenses. To investigate whether this difference can be explained without taste-based discrimination, we construct a simple model of optimal bail setting. We develop a two-step econometric method that allows us to estimate the model while holding constant defendant heterogeneity that judges can observe, even when we do not. In return for making the behavioral model’s relatively weak parametric assumptions, we are able to allow an arbitrary conditional distribution of such heterogeneity. We estimate the model using publicly available administrative data on felony defendants for five counties in 2000 and 2002. Point estimates suggest discriminatory bail levels in at least one, and possibly two, of these counties, where estimates suggest that judges set bail as if the value of blacks’ lost freedom is less than two-thirds the value of whites’ lost freedom. This result translates into a substantial black-white gap in the value of lost freedom — at least $64 per day.

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as respects florida law, your study is either flawed, or judges are violating the law. at first appearance, after determining probable cause, judges need to next determine dangerousness. if dangerous, then detention (thus no need to consider release or bail). if dangerousness is ruled out by the judge, then judge needs to review all the factors (community ties, etc...) in order to determine conditions, release, bail or combination of, to assure appearance. judges who allow dangerous defendants to be "released or bailed", are violating the law, as these defendants, by law, need to be detained by law. ps - one day, some lawyer needs to look up what the "complex" "eons old" word/term "bail" - actually means. todays courts allow "bail" to be misunderstood, misused and mutilated, in both its meaning and in its application.

Posted by: concerned citizen | Feb 16, 2012 6:17:56 AM

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