Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
For decades, research has consistently demonstrated that minorities are overrepresented in the prison population, yet relatively little is known about whether juror perceptions about race and criminal culpability may impact this problem in the United States. Using Hill's folk theory of race and racism as the theoretical foundation, this cross sectional study examined the relationship between perceptions of the race of the defendant and the verdicts to be handed down. Data were collected from a convenience sample of 25 people who self-reported having served on a jury or were eligible for jury service within the past 5 years in a southwest Georgia community. The instrument used was original and designed to capture basic demographics of the respondents and perceptions about traits of the criminal defendants and their criminal culpability. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests to examine whether participants' perceptions of race, income, and education of the defendant were statistically associated. Income and educational ranges were assigned to the defendants. Findings revealed 76% of respondents believed that baggy clothes are predictors of criminality. Furthermore, 72% of participants associated baggy pants with African Americans. It is possible that a correlation exists between associating African Americans with baggy pants and baggy clothes with criminality. Chi square results indicate that participants' beliefs of whether defendants were â??likely or extremely likelyâ?? to commit criminal offenses based on race, education level, and income of the defendants were not statistically significant. These findings may be important to court systems in terms of better understanding race relations in the United States as it relates to justice system equality.