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Study finds racial bias impacts bail decisions

Black defendants in Minnesota and throughout the United States are 2.4 percent more likely to be held during the legal process than white defendants. This is the key finding in a study to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Furthermore, it was determined that bail for black defendants was higher and that both white and black judges seemed to be biased against them.

As a general rule, those who are deemed a more significant risk to society will be given higher bail amounts. Research has shown that black defendants are thought of as more aggressive even though there is no clear evidence to back this up. The researchers behind the study say that making decisions based on data could work to reduce racial bias in the justice system. Providing additional training for judges could also help them to make decisions that are based more on facts and less on racial stereotypes.

Experienced judges were less likely to make decisions based on stereotypes. In Miami, experience judges are those who have at least 9.5 years on the job. The study looked at 162,836 court cases in Philadelphia County and another 93,417 cases in Miami-Dade County. The cases in Philadelphia County occurred between 2010 and 2014 while the ones in Miami-Dade County took place from 2006 to 2014.

Individuals who are charged with a crime have the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to challenge evidence, cast doubt on witness testimony or take other steps to help a defendant obtain a favorable outcome in his or her case. If these efforts are successful, those charged with a crime may be offered a plea deal or have their cases thrown out. A defendant may also be acquitted by a jury.

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