The Impact of Race on the Pretrial Decision
This study examined the effect of race on the pretrial release decision for drug offenders. Although this decision point has not been examined as extensively as the final sentencing decision, it is a critical discretion point which impacts defendants’ future sentencing outcomes. The results found that race had a significant impact on judges’ decisions to release a defendant on recognizance, with black defendants less likely to receive this release status. Race was not significant, however, in the decision of bail amount or in the likelihood to post bail. These results are consistent with the focal concerns perspective which suggests that black defendants are viewed by courts as more dangerous and blameworthy and thereby, less likely to be released on their own recognizance.