Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System are well documented in that minority defendants are over-represented compared with white defendants. The present authors argue that it is crucial to study the pretrial stages because they are a pivotal point in the criminal justice process continuum and racial disparities may begin to take root at an early stage of the process.
We find some evidence of racial disparities in pretrial decisionmaking. The type of bond assigned differs by race. Black defendants who were unable to post bond spent more days in jail, compared to white counterparts. However, race is not a significant predictor of bond amount in the regression analysis, indicating that racial disparities may not be as pronounced as some advocates believe in terms of bond amounts set by judges. We acknowledge that the findings are limited due to small sample size and cautions should be taken when generalizing the findings.
Guangya Liu et al., Do Racial Disparities Exist during Pretrial Decisionmaking? Evidence from North Carolina (July 22, 2014)