pretrial release, racial disparity, sentencing, focal concerns


Criminology and Criminal Justice


There is an abundance of studies that examine judicial discretion in the final sentencing stages; however, few have examined discretion in the early stages of court decisions. Pretrial release is especially concerning as it has been strongly correlated with a final sentence of incarceration and deprives defendants of their freedom. This study examined whether race, gender, and age influence judges’ decisions to detain or release a defendant prior to trial. The results indicate that females and younger defendants were less likely to be detained. Race was not significant after economic variables were included. When examining males and females separately, race was significant for females, with Black females being the least likely to be detained. For White females, White males, and Black males, offenders aged 30–39 were more likely to be detained than their younger counterparts. Younger and older White females were not significantly more likely to be detained than their Black female counterparts.


Original Citation: Freiburger, Tina L., and Carly M. Hilinski. "The Impact of Race, Gender, and Age on the Pretrial Decision." Criminal Justice Review 35, no. 3 (2010): 318-334.