We will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to identify the causal impact of our intervention on pretrial release and misconduct rates (on average and on racial disparities). We will randomize exactly when each judge receives the interventions in order to identify the causal impact of each treatment. After the conclusion of our planning period, our sample will be split into a treatment and control group.
Data Collection: First, we will collect survey data both during the planning and intervention stages. The survey will ask judges for baseline demographic information, questions about which factors they deem important to pretrial decision-making, questions assessing their current bail practices and perceived risk of defendants and will ask judges to make decisions for prototypical defendants in sample vignettes. We will also administer a baseline Implicit Association Test (IAT) to all judges, as the IAT has shown to be highly correlated with measures of bias and stereotyping behavior in the real world (Glover, Pallais, Pariente 2017, Carlana 2018). This survey will be repeated at the end of the study, where we will also ask additional questions in order to better understand how judges interpreted and utilized the intervention they received.
Second, both during and after the intervention, we will work with courts to obtain data on pretrial release decisions and misconduct outcomes at the case level. These data will also include judge and defendant identifiers, defendant demographics, and additional case and defendant details such as the crime type and prior criminal history.
Third, to assess whether the benchcard intervention slows down decision-making, we will send research assistants to each court to observe a random sample of bail hearings and record the number of minutes each hearing takes prior to a determination of bail conditions. We will also record the number of questions the bail judge asks at each hearing/arraignment.