"Kids who are sentenced by college-football-loving judges who are disappointed after unexpected team losses are finding themselves behind bars for longer than kids who are sentenced after wins or predicted losses.
That’s the gist of a new working paper by a pair of economists at Louisiana State University. It sounds almost comical, like an Onion headline, at first glance: 'Judge Sentences Teen to Two Years After Louisiana Tigers Fall to Wisconsin Badgers.' But, insists Naci Mocan, an economics professor at LSU and a co-author (with a fellow professor, Ozkan Eren) of 'Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles,' it’s not far off.
In looking at decisions handed down by judges in Louisiana’s juvenile courts between 1996 and 2012, the pair found that when LSU lost football games it was expected to win, judges—specifically those who had earned their bachelor’s degrees from the school—issued harsher sentences in the week following the loss. When the team was ranked in the top 10 before the losing game, kids wound up behind bars for about two months longer, on average. When the team was not as highly ranked, it was a little more than a month. The pair found that the harsher sentences disproportionately affected black defendants."