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Journal Articles

Decision making

2022

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Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson Jan 2022

Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson

Journal Articles

In their charging and bargaining decisions, prosecutors have unparalleled and nearly-unchecked discretion that leads to incarceration or freedom for millions of Americans each year. More than courts, legislators, or any other justice system player, in the aggregate prosecutors’ choices are the key drivers of outcomes, whether the rates of mass incarceration or the degree of racial disparities in justice. To date, there is precious little empirical research on how prosecutors exercise their breathtaking discretion. We do not know whether they consistently charge like cases alike or whether crime is in the eye of the beholder. We do not know what …