Justice by Other Means: Venue Sorting in Parole Revocation


Jeffrey Lin, University of Denver, Sociology and Criminology, Sturm Hall 440, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO, USA 80208. Telephone: (303) 871-6674; Fax (303) 871-2090; E-mail: jeffrey.lin@du.edu.


We consider the factors that shape venue sorting, the process by which a legal case can be handled through different organizational arrangements with distinct procedures, institutional cultures, and sanctioning constraints. The empirical area for our investigation of venue sorting is California's parole revocation system, in which parolees accused of new crimes can be returned to prison by either criminal courts or the parole board. We find that seriousness of the alleged offense partially predicts the venue through which parolees are sanctioned. However, venue sorting is further explained by decision makers' perceptions of parolee threat, as well as concerns about organizational efficiency and legitimacy. We conclude by discussing how these findings may relate to the general phenomenon of venue sorting across a range of legal situations.