Study: Juvenile court judges issue longer sentences after unexpected LSU football loss

Study: Juvenile court judges issue longer sentences after unexpected LSU football loss

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new study claims that after the LSU football team suffers a loss, so too do juveniles in court.

The study by researchers at the National Bureau of Economics Research claims that black juveniles receive an extra 46 days of sentencing after an unexpected loss. Additionally, white juveniles receive an extra 8 days.

"We analyze the effects of emotional shocks associated with unexpected outcomes of football games played by a prominent college team in the state," states the study. "These results provide evidence for the impact of emotions in one domain on a behavior in a completely unrelated domain among a uniformly highly-educated group of individuals (judges), with decisions involving high stakes (sentence lengths)."

Apparently, the connection was stronger if the judge graduated from LSU.

The study looked at juvenile court decisions in Louisiana's juvenile courts between 1996 and 2012. The reason, the study states, for focusing on LSU is because the team has "an enormous group of loyal followers."

"The fan base of the team goes well beyond the student body of the university: average attendance to home games was around 92,500 between 1996 and 2012."

To determine whether or not the loss was "unexpected," the took a cue from Las Vegas.

"We employ the Las-Vegas pregame point spread as fans' (judges in our case) rational expectations about the outcome of the game. To the extent that pregame point spread provides efficient prediction of game outcomes, controlling for the spread allows us to interpret any differential impact between a win and a loss as the causal impact of the game outcome."

Overall, juveniles in Louisiana received an extra 1,332 days of sentencing due to unexpected LSU football losses.

"Although harsher punishment handed down by judges is not deliberate (because it is triggered by an emotional shock), we find some evidence that black defendants bear much of the burden of judges' wrath due to this emotional shock, which hints at a negative predisposition towards black defendants," the researchers wrote.

"This result, coupled with the fact that there are no race related differences in the disposition length in the absence of judges' emotional stress, is suggestive of the existence of a subtle, and previously-unnoticed, bias in sentencing."

To read the full study, click here.

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