Brooklyn Law Review


Alexis Karteron


Parole offers the possibility of release for a substantial number of incarcerated people in the United States, the world’s largest jailer, but is seriously understudied. In particular, the role of victims and race in the parole decision-making process deserves attention. Decades of research has shown that the “race-of-victim effect” leads to more punitive sentences when white victimhood is at issue. In the parole context, the ubiquity of victim impact statements and the emotional responses they trigger raise the likelihood that the “race-of-victim effect” plagues parole decision-making as well. This essay calls for greater data collection and scrutiny into the role of race and victim impact evidence in the parole decision-making process.