Parole is a major part of a prisoner's interaction with the criminal justice system, and is linked to long-run prisoner outcomes. Using data from the state of Georgia, we exploit the fact that prisoners are randomly allocated to parole board members to recover the effect of parole board racial composition on prisoner outcomes. We find that a higher proportion of Black members on the parole board is associated with better parole outcomes and lower 3-year recidivism rates for Black prisoners. Further, we document that the Black-White gap in parole violation rates, conditional on measures of parole success, closes when the parole board gains a Black member. Taken together, we argue that this is consistent with a reduction in discrimination against Black inmates with regard to parole decisions.
First version, February 14, 2023
H76: State and Local Government: Other Expenditure Categories
K40: Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior: General