Racial Disparities in Pre-Sentencing Courtroom Outcomes
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The foundation of the American criminal justice system rests on the idea that all offenders should be treated equally before the law. However, prior research has shown that an offender's race may result in differential treatment. Despite extensive literature examining sentencing and race, very little attention has been given to the courtroom processes that occur after arrest but prior to sentencing (primarily executed at the discretion of the prosecutor). This study examines three of those pre-sentencing processes (dismissals, diversions, and charge reductions) that drastically affect the treatment an offender receives during later stages of the proceedings. Results indicate that minorities are significantly more likely to receive dismissals while being significantly less likely to receive diversions or charge reductions. Findings regarding geographic location and other variables are also discussed as well as limitations and suggestions for further research.