This article forthcoming in the Iowa Law Review improve incentives for prosecutors to avoid Brady violations and provide redress to victims of prosecutorial misconduct who currently lack access to justice. This works was conducted in conjunction with the UC-Berkeley Civil Justice Research Initiative.
This study, conducted by Quattrone affiliates Bocar Ba and Dean Knox and co-authors in support of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission’s review of the city’s disciplinary process for police, demonstrates using comprehensive data on police complaints that complaints almost never result in disciplinary action, even when they allege serious violations of Constitutional rights
This working paper by Jonah Gelbach, supported by the Quattrone Center, develops new methods for testing for racial discrimination using real-world data. Abstract: In this paper I derive several straightforward restrictions imposed by the Becker model of discrimination in the highway search and pre-trial release contexts. I explain how these restrictions may be tested using real-world data at the decision level (e.g., whether to search or whether to release a defendant). I then apply one of these restrictions to Florida data used in Anwar& Fang’s (2006) influential study and more recent data from Harris County, Texas, provided by the Stanford Open Policing Project. The Florida data pass the restriction, but the Harris County data do not, with obvious implications for the appropriateness of the Becker model in each context. Further, data from both locations powerfully reject the prediction, from Knowles, Persico & Todd’s (2001, KPT) two-sided model, that drivers will carry contraband at identical rates. Next I apply the Becker model restrictions to published estimates from Arnold, Dobbie & Yang’s (2018) influential study of racial discrimination and pre-trial release. Their published estimates starkly violate the Becker model’s restrictions, regardless of whether these are viewed as flowing from animus or inaccurate stereotyping. It is unclear whether the culprit is econometric assumptions, a failure of the Becker model, or both. These findings suggest the importance of specification testing when we attempt to measure racial discrimination. They also suggest the need to consider alternatives to the workhorse Becker model, although doing so is beyond the scope of this paper.
In this article in Science, Quattrone Research Fellow Bocar Ba, Center affiliate Dean Knox, and Jonathan Mummolo and Roman Rivera offer a groundbreaking analysis demonstrating differences in policing behavior by the race of the officer in Chicago. Abstract: Diversification is a widely proposed policing reform, but its impact is difficult to assess. We used records of millions of daily patrol assignments, determined through fixed rules and preassigned rotations that mitigate self-selection, to compare the average behavior of officers of different demographic profiles working in comparable conditions. Relative to white officers, Black and Hispanic officers make far fewer stops and arrests, and they use force less often, especially against Black civilians. These effects are largest in majority-Black areas of Chicago and stem from reduced focus on enforcing low-level offenses, with greatest impact on Black civilians. Female officers also use less force than males, a result that holds within all racial groups. These results suggest that diversity reforms can improve police treatment of minority communities.
This article in the Journal of Public Economics by Quattrone Faculty affiliate David Abrams offers a first-of-its kind analysis of the effects of the COVID epidemic on reported crime and incarceration. Abstract: Data from 25 large U.S. cities is assembled to estimate the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on crime. There is a widespread immediate drop in both criminal incidents and arrests most heavily pronounced among drug crimes, theft, residential burglaries, and most violent crimes. The decline appears to precede stay-at-home orders, and arrests follow a similar pattern as reports. There is no decline in homicides and shootings, and an increase in non-residential burglary and car theft in most cities, suggesting that criminal activity was displaced to locations with fewer people. Pittsburgh, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago each saw overall crime drops of at least 35%. Evidence from police-initiated reports and geographic variation in crime change suggests that most of the observed changes are not due to changes in crime reporting.
This article by Quattrone Center faculty affiliate Jon Klick and co-author Marco Fabbri assesses the effect of a private security on crime Abstract: The deterrence effect of police on crime has been well established using modern quasi-experimental micro-econometric methods. Although the results from these studies uniformly suggest that polices pending is cost justified, it is worth exploring whether police-like alternatives can deter crime even more cheaply. Unarmed private security personnel that conspicuously patrol a neighborhood have the potential to cheaply leverage the ability of police to be informed of crimes while also providing direct deterrence on their own. In the Fall of 2013, a neighborhood in Oakland, CA mounted a campaign to provide observe and report security patrols to augment the publicly provided policing in the area. While the initial effect of the additional security was a drop in crime, it quickly evaporated, calling into question the value of security forces that do not have the ability to apprehend criminals directly.
This article by Quattrone Research Fellow Eric Hintz, forthcoming in the Penn State Law Review, argues for more stringent pleading standards in criminal courts. Abstract: When a plaintiff files a civil lawsuit in federal court, her complaint must satisfy certain minimum standards. Specifically, under the prevailing understanding of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a complaint must plead sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, rather than mere conclusory statements. Given the significantly higher stakes involved in criminal cases, one might think that an even more robust requirement would exist in that context. But in fact a weaker pleading standard reigns. Under the governing interpretation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c), indictments that simply parrot the language of a statute are often sufficient. As this Article shows, however, that pleading balance is misguided. The drafters of Rule 7(c) designed the Rule to be at least as stringent as Rule 8(a), as demonstrated by the text of Rules 7(c) and 8(a), the history of American pleading, the original Advisory Committee Note to Rule 7(c), and the drafting history of the Criminal Rules. And the drafters’ original design should govern today, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s amplification of the civil pleading standard in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal. All of that means that our current pleading regime should be rethought, that criminal defendants should receive more protections and information about the case against them than they presently do, and that policy arguments—which seem to favor a stronger criminal pleading standard—are all the more critical.
This article in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law by Benjamin Barsky, Heather Cucolo, and Quattrone Center Faculty Affiliate Dominic Sisti argues for an expanded role for problem-solving courts and therapeutic jurisprudence in the federal system. Abstract: A patchwork of drug courts and other problem-solving courts currently exists to divert individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system. We call for a broader implementation of problem-solving courts, particularly at the federal level, that would operate according to the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence (i.e., a framework that aims to maximize the health benefits of judicial and legislative policies and practices). Expanding federal problem-solving courts will better serve individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders in the federal criminal justice system and allow them to benefit from rehabilitation and diversion programs. This effort will also signal that the federal judiciary has recognized the criminal justice system’s failure to address inmate mental health care, and that it is willing to institute changes to provide appropriate, evidence-based interventions.
Report of the Tucson Sentinel Event Review Board (SERB) on the Deaths in Custody of Mr. Damien Alvarado and Mr. Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez
This report summarizes issues identified by the Tucson Sentinel Event Review Board in its 2020 review of the deaths of Mr. Damien Alvarado and Mr. Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez while in the custody of the Tucson Police Department. The SERB identified 32 contributing factors and conditions leading to the two deaths. From these, the Quattrone Center and the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing worked with the stakeholder group to propose 53 recommendations for modifications to policies, procedures, supervision, and the environment in which our first responders are making decisions that we feel will provide substantial improvements to ensuring the safety of the Tucson community.
This whitepaper was developed by Quattrone Center researchers and prepared in response to the efforts of a local county, Bucks County, PA to develop a mental health court. The report provides important background and a set of recommendations Bucks County and other jurisdictions might consider in designing and implementing a mental health court. A properly constituted mental health court can improve both clinical and criminal justice outcomes for people living with mental illness. A mental health court would operate as a form of judicially supervised probation, diverting defendants from incarceration to the community, where they can access both treatment and social supports. As the report describes, mental health courts contribute to reductions in time offenders with mental illness spend in jail, improve public safety by reducing rates of re-offending, and lead to improvements in quality of life among participants. Furthermore, a mental health court would draw from existing resources to provide a new set of tools to tackle the challenges posed by people with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
In this article in Criminology and Public Policy, Quattrone Center faculty affiliate John McDonald and Steven Raphael demonstrate that scaling back punishments can be an effective tool to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Abstract: In late 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47 that redefined a set of less serious felony drug and property offenses as misdemeanors. We examine how racial and ethnic disparities in criminal court dispositions in San Francisco change in the years before (2010–2014) and after (2015–2016) the passage of Proposition 47. We decompose disparities in court dispositions into components resulting from racial/ethnic differences in offense characteristics, involvement in the criminal justice system at the time of arrest, pretrial detention, criminal history, and the residual unexplained component. Before and after Proposition 47, case characteristics explain nearly all of the observable disparities in court dispositions between racial and ethnic groups. After the passage of Proposition 47, however, there is a narrowing of disparities in convictions and incarceration sentences that is driven by lesser weight placed on criminal history, active criminal justice status, and pretrial detention in effecting court dispositions. The findings from this study suggest that policy reforms that scale back the severity of punishment for criminal history and active criminal justice status for less serious felony offenses may help narrow inter‐racial and inter‐ethnic inequalities in criminal court dispositions. Efforts to reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in mass incarceration in other states should consider reforms that reduce the weight that criminal history, pretrial detention, and active probation status has on criminal defendants’ eligibility for prison for less serious drug and property offenses.
In this article in Law and Human Behavior, Quattrone Research Fellow Rachel Greenspan and Elizabeth Loftus demonstrate how later feedback can distort an eyewitness’ memory regarding how certain they were of their choices when making the initial identification. Objective: Feedback from lineup administrators about identification accuracy significantly impacts witness confidence. In the current studies, we investigated the effect of post-identification feedback given 1-week after an initial, pristine lineup. We tested 2 kinds of feedback: typical feedback (i.e., about identification accuracy) and misinformation feedback. Misinformation feedback came in the form of suggestive questioning that falsely suggested the participant was either more or less confident in their initial identification than they actually reported. Hypotheses: We hypothesized both confirming misinformation and typical feedback would significantly inflate witness confidence relative to no feedback controls while disconfirming misinformation and typical feedback would deflate witness confidence relative to controls. Method: Across 2 studies, participants (N=907), recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk, watched a mock crime video, made an identification, and reported their confidence under unbiased lineup conditions. One week later, they received either confirming or disconfirming misinformation or typical feedback. They then provided a retrospective confidence judgment. Results: Misinformation feedback caused significant confidence change. Participants given false feedback that they were more confident in their initial identification than they reported later recalled greater initial confidence. Even when pristine identification conditions were used, typical confirming feedback caused participants to later remember greater confidence than they initially reported at the time of the lineup. Even in the absence of any feedback, control participants showed significant confidence inflation over time. Conclusion: These results highlight the need for lineup administrators to both ask for and document verbatim witness confidence at the time of the initial identification.