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Keywords:

  • Guideline departures;
  • courtroom discretion;
  • sentencing disparity;
  • race/ethnicity;
  • modes of conviction

The present study uses data on the processing of felony defendants in large urban courts to examine Hispanic, black, and white differences at the pretrial release stage. The major finding is that Hispanic defendants are more likely to be detained than white and black defendants. And, racial/ethnic differences are most pronounced in drug cases. In fact, Hispanic defendants suffer a triple burden at the pretrial release stage as they are the group most likely to be required to pay bail to gain release, the group that receives the highest bail amounts, and the group least able to pay bail. These findings are consistent with a focal concerns perspective of criminal case processing that suggests Hispanics as a newly immigrated group are especially prone to harsher treatment in the criminal case process.