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Testing for Racial Prejudice in the Parole Board Release Process: Theory and Evidence

We develop a model of a parole board contemplating whether to grant parole release to a prisoner who has finished serving his minimum sentence. The model implies a simple outcome test for racial prejudice that is based on the released inmate’s rate of recidivism and is robust to the inframarginality problem. Our model has several testable implications for which we show empirical support. Applying our test to data on all prison releases in Pennsylvania between 1999 and 2003, we find no evidence of racial prejudice.