THE USUAL SUSPECTS: EXAMINING THE ROLE OF OFFENSE-SPECIFIC TYPESCRIPTS IN PROSECUTORIAL DECISION-MAKING
Publication or External Link
Prior research has demonstrated that the relationship between defendant characteristics and prosecutorial decision-making is nuanced and often difficult to detect. A complete understanding of this relationship requires a holistic approach examining multiple decision points and a sound theoretical foundation. Using data from the New York County District Attorney’s Office, this study investigates disparities in case outcomes across several decision-making stages. Informed by a theoretical perspective that combines focal concerns and typescripts theories, I argue that during the course of their work, prosecutors develop impressions of archetypal offenders for individual offense types. Decisions made throughout case processing are subsequently influenced by the degree to which the defendant matches the description of the archetypal offender associated with the charged offense. Findings provide mixed support for the hypotheses put forth in the study. Results are discussed as they relate to theories of courtroom dynamics, prosecutorial decision-making, and biases in case processing.