Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Gregory Campbell

Abstract

In 2005, Florida enacted the Justifiable Use of Deadly Force legislation, known as Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, in response to the Workman case. The aftermath of that case led to the expansion of the laws that removed the duty to retreat principle and allowed citizens to employ deadly force when imbued with fear. The SYG laws as written appeared to imply state-sanctioned violence, with an increase in homicides, coupled with racial disparities. This study employed a quantitative inquiry with a causal-comparative design to explore whether a relationship existed between racial socialization and fear of crime in SYG states compared to non-SYG states, using the lens of critical race theory, contact theory and policy learning theory. The study included 112 participants recruited through social media, they were ages 18 years and older, from Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia who had no connections to an SYG case. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance and indicated statistical significance between the state of residency and an individual’s decision to fight back when presented with a scenario similar to the Trayvon Martin case. The results also yielded a statistical significance between gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s decision to fight back in the SYG scenario. The findings of this study confirm that the state of residency may impact the decision to employ deadly force or fight back. However, other results are not consistent with previous research. This study provides legislatures with a means for reforming the SYG rhetoric, as well as decrease the public’s misconceptions about the SYG laws.

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