Prosecutors Offering Charge Reductions: Relying on Facts or Stereotypes?
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This research expands attribution theory and focal concerns perspective, usually applied to judicial decision making, to address prosecutorial charging decisions within the Federal Court System. This study investigates whether the extralegal factors of age, gender, race, and ethnicity permeate the decision of prosecutors to offer charge reductions. This research seeks to uncover differential processing through comparisons across sub-samples of individuals in order to see if the influences of these extralegal factors vary through interactions with both legal and extralegal factors. The analyses are conducted on a binary dependent variable representing the decision to offer a reduction and a continuous dependent variable reflecting the magnitude of the charge change. The results find support for differential processing based on extralegal variables, and support for the importance of some interactions. This research lends credence to the use of attribution theory and focal concerns for understanding prosecutorial charging decisions.