Bias in prosecutorial decision making: Bridging focal concerns & group threat

Omrit Avni, Joshua Guetzkow, Badi Hasisi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Two dominant theoretical approaches used to explain racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice outcomes are focal concerns and group threat. This study tests hypotheses about disparities in prosecutors' indictment decisions drawn from these theories, as well as the liberation hypothesis. Methods: Propensity score matching is used to examine charging disparities between Arabs and Jews suspected of different property crimes in the Jerusalem district court from 2007 to 2018. Results: Hypotheses drawn from each of these perspectives are not supported. The pattern of disparities across different crime types is consistent with an explanation that bridges insights from focal concerns and group threat perspectives. Conclusions: Our study emphasizes the importance of the broader social context of the offense in understanding the threat perceptions tied to specific crimes and explaining ethnic gaps in prosecutorial decision making.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number102192
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Volume92
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Focal concerns
  • Indictment
  • Liberation hypothesis
  • Nationality
  • PSM
  • Prosecution
  • Racial threat
  • bias

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