Examining Neighborhood Income Differences and Prosecutorial Charge Reductions
Hernandez, Raquel Aida
Johnson, Brian D
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Recent studies find the socioeconomic status (SES) of a defendant’s home neighborhood acts as an extralegal factor in sentencing. However, little is known about how movement between low-SES and high-SES neighborhoods to commit crimes can shape the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The social class of both a defendant’s home neighborhood and victimized neighborhood may be relevant in prosecutorial decision-making. This study examines how the SES of home and victimized neighborhoods influences the likelihood of a defendant receiving a charge reduction. Data from the New York County District Attorney’s Office provide detailed information on prosecution and sentencing for a large sample of criminal offenders, many of whom travel to commit crimes in neighborhoods other than their own. Results indicate low to high moving offenders were less likely to receive a charge reduction. Findings are discussed as they relate to theories of prosecutorial decision-making and perspectives on social inequality in punishment.