Do Police Discriminate? Evidence from Multiple-Offender Crimes
A large body of prior research examines whether differential arrest rates of minorities reflect disproportionate minority involvement in crime or institutional bias that targets enforcement towards minorities. This research has been limited by difficulties in measuring the extent to which minority offending differs from offending in general. In this paper we exploit the fact that some crimes are committed by groups of both Black and White offenders to estimate the extent to which minority offenders face differential probabilities of arrest. Our research design permits us to control for all observable and unobservable circumstances associated with each offense for this subpopulation. We find that Black offenders are 3% more likely to be arrested than their White counterparts. Although this difference suggests institutional bias against minorities, such bias is insufficient to explain the large racial arrest disparity.
Paul Heaton and Charles Loeffler. 2008. "Do Police Discriminate? Evidence from Multiple-Offender Crimes" The Selected Works of Paul Heaton
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/psheaton/8