Thursday, October 21, 2021
Study Shows Restricting Prosecutorial Discretion on Racial and Gender Disparities Reduced Gender Gap of Men Being More Likely than Women to Receive Sentence Enhancements
Andy Yuan & Spencer Cooper, Racial, Gender Disparities and Prosecutorial Discretion: Evidence from Blakely v. Washington
We investigate the causal effects of restricting prosecutorial discretion on racial and gender disparities. Blakely v.Washington 542 U.S.296 (2004) exogenously introduced a significant constraint on North Carolina state prosecutors' discretion in seeking sentence enhancements by raising their burdens of proof from "preponderance of evidence" to "beyond a reasonable doubt." Through a regression discontinuity design, we find striking evidence that restricting prosecutorial discretion eliminated the entire preexisting gender gap of men being 28% more likely to receive sentence enhancements than women. However, we find no evidence suggesting a racial gap of sentence enhancements both pre and post Blakely.