Their key findings include:
- Most of the judges interviewed (76 percent) said they thought that racial disparities were the result of a combination of factors, including discriminatory treatment by court ofﬁcials or police ofﬁcers and higher rates of offending among black and Hispanic people.
- Almost a quarter of judges exclusively blamed factors outside the criminal justice arena – the criminal offenders themselves and problems that arise before offenders come into contact with criminal justice systems.
- Many judges said they make decisions based on preconceived notions about the practicality of certain treatments for defendants of a certain race or socioeconomic class.
- Judges use two types of strategy – interventionist and noninterventionist — for addressing the problem of racial disparity. A judge using a noninterventionist strategy may consider his or her own differential treatment of the defendant but will not try to address and correct differential treatment by others in the judicial system. A judge using an interventionist strategy tries to correct for differential treatment that a minority defendant may have faced at some point within the judicial system.
- Judges reported using a noninterventionist strategy most often. For example, 75 percent of judges reported using a noninterventionist strategy at arraignment. More than 85 percent reported using nonintervention strategies at both plea hearings and sentencing.