Perceptions of Criminal Offenders
The War on Crime first began in the late 1960’s and although being fought for approximately four decades it continues to be unresolved. Through the years War on Crime has evolved, for the purpose of this paper we will focus on the evolution to the war on drugs. It has been found that media has heightened crime salience. Various studies support this idea, demonstrating that behaviors including consumption of illicit drugs are portrayed more and more on movies and music. This paper will focus on the community perspective of drug offenders, specifically perceptions of dangerousness, threat, socialization, sentencing, convictions, safety, and re-offense, based on race of the offender. Previous studies have found that darker skin tones are associated with bad behavior as opposed to lighter skin tones. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant mean difference between groups A, B, C, and D in perceptions of offender threat, dangerousness, and socialization. Results were not significant. It was also hypothesized that there will be a significant mean difference between groups A, B, C, and D in perceptions of safety and re-offense. There was only a significant difference in re-offense between groups B and D, which were not supportive of previous research that indicated darker skin tones to be associated with bad behavior more than lighter skin tones. It was also hypothesized that there will be a significant mean difference between groups A, B, C, and D in perceptions of sentencing. Results were not significant. Lastly it was hypothesized that sentencing convictions will differ significantly by race. Results were not significant. It is important to look at underlying perceptions to prevent race from being a determining factor in the justice system.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
Psychology, Criminology, Race