Emma Harrington will be presenting in person. Viewers may also attend via Zoom.
Emma Harrington is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the IR Section and will join the University of Iowa in 2022.
Prosecutors mediate between the police’s initial charge and the final punishment — so can compound, pass through, or attenuate racial disparities in policing. We ask how prosecutorial discretion impacts racial disparities in North Carolina state courts from 1995 to 2019. Leveraging discontinuities in mandatory-prison laws, we find that prosecutors’ responses to these discontinuities initially compounded disparities but came to attenuate them. This reversal is concentrated in arrests typically initiated by police stops, suggesting that prosecutors have increasingly checked the police. Using an original survey, we find that prosecutors who question police decisions tend to reduce racial disparities in their cases.