Racism in Sentencing and Conviction of Violent Criminal Behavior

Kirsti Fox and Dr. Joseph Horvat, Weber State University; 3848 Harrison Blvd, Ogden, UT 84408

The Civil War ended slavery in the United States, but racial disparities were still high. Legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, as well as studies regarding racial disparities among criminals have attempted to highlight injustices regarding race in the criminal justice system. It is clear that there are differences in sentencing and conviction when it comes to race, even after all the attempts to create a fair criminal justice system.

Millions of lives across the country are affected by disparities in sentencing for African Americans. Our hypothesis in this research study is that the rate of conviction and severity of sentencing recommendations that is reported by respondents will be higher for black perpetrators in crime than white perpetrators. We analyzed responses from students at our University to see where their views align and to determine common trends within groups of students in order to see if justice truly is blind. 

Data was collected and analyzed to determine whether the race of the perpetrator or victim would influence sentencing recommendations, and the severity of the recommendations.

The data supports the original hypothesis and previous research. There is an implicit bias and sensitivity to race in perceived perpetrators of violent crimes. The sentencing recommendation and severity were both influenced by the race of the alleged perpetrator. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Kirsti Fox

Institution: Weber State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7071