Crime by Race by Punishment

Student: Guadalupe Martinez

Mentor: Sandra Galta

Abstract

It is difficult to deny that race or the color of someone’s skin does not affect the way people may judge them. Ideally, the criminal justice system in the U.S. would judge people not according to their race, but by their actions. We explore the question, do white males get different sentencing than males of color in the U.S criminal justice system? The research took place in Ellensburg WA where the findings from this observational research indicate that although there may not be a substantial difference in sentencing between white males and males of color, there is a substantial difference in the number of charges each person carried when receiving their sentencing. This suggests that white males with more charges received a similar sentence to males of color with fewer charges of the same severity. This research, in the end, shows the importance to continue future research looking into a larger sample of courts and judgment across the country.

Presentation

2 thoughts on “Crime by Race by Punishment”

  1. Dear Guadalupe, your research is very interesting and the findings not surprising. Because we use the scientific method when we do research, we need to make sure that we leave out our own personal biases. This can be achieved by operationalizing what you are measuring/observing and by having one or more additional observers at the same time. After you collect your observations, you compare them with the other observers and then you see whether the observations are the same. When you talk about behavior, you also need to define what you mean with behavior. For example, is it a gesture? A smile? A frown? If you’re looking for aggressive behavior, you need to defiine what is meant by aggressive. When you compare the sentencing, I was wondering whether there were any priors that may have influenced the judge’s ruling. If you can exclude all those variables, you get more solid findings. Have you also thought about the fact that observing people during different times of the day may influence their behavior? I, for example, have a very short fuse one hour before lunch which would highly influence my judgment. Great job!

  2. Interesting work! Like Patty, I am interested in knowing more about how you conceptualized and operationalized body language.

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