Disparity in Prosecutorial Decision Making in North Carolina: The Effects of Processual Factors

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Title: Disparity in Prosecutorial Decision Making in North Carolina: The Effects of Processual Factors
Author: Parrotta, Kylie Lynn
Advisors: Rodney Engen, Committee Chair
Abstract: The impact of prosecutorial discretion — by means of plea and charge bargaining — on charging decisions under sentencing guidelines has not been thoroughly examined in the literature. For instance, few studies explicitly examine plea type and effectiveness of legal counsel in assessing favorable outcomes for offenders. Sentencing guidelines were introduced to regulate judicial discretion and to assure equality in sentencing decisions for similarly situated offenders. However, some scholars argue under that limiting judicial discretion under sentencing guidelines results in a transfer of discretionary power to prosecuting attorneys; providing prosecutors to have greater power in charging decisions and thereby undermining equality in sentencing. Utilizing data on felony convictions from North Carolina, this study examines legal factors, extralegal factors and processing factors on charge reductions and disposition reductions. Hypotheses regarding race, sex, and type of legal representation are tested using logistic regression and the results indicate that non-white females are the most likely to receive charge reductions and disposition reductions. Odds of charge reductions are similar for public defenders and private attorneys, but private attorneys have greater odds of having dispositions reduced, and guilty pleas result in more favorable outcomes than non-guilty pleas. Implications of the findings and future research are discussed.
Date: 2006-08-13
Degree: MS
Discipline: Sociology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2735

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