Race Shapes Perceptions of Juvenile Offenders in Criminal Court1


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    The authors thank Jim Larson and Olga Reyes for their helpful comments; Tamara Haegerich for case materials; and Alison Perona for reviewing materials for legal realism. We also thank Michaela Drury, Lauren Kasprzyk, Michael Keaveny, Lachelle White, and Lauren Whitehair for their valuable research assistance. This research was supported by grants to the first author from the American Psychology–Law Society, the University of Illinois Department of Psychology, and the American Society of Trial Consultants.

Margaret C. Stevenson, Department of Psychology, University of Evansville, 1800 Lincoln Avenue, Evansville, IN 47722. E-mail: ms446@evansville.edu


We investigated the effects of defendant race, victim race, and juror gender on non-African American mock jurors' perceptions of crimes committed by juvenile offenders. We predicted that mock jurors, particularly men, would render more pro-prosecution case judgments when the defendant was African American than White. We also predicted that defendants would be judged more harshly when the crime victim was portrayed as White rather than as African American. Although there were few main effects of defendant race or victim race on case judgments, defendant and victim race by juror gender interactions revealed that men (but not women) demonstrated the predicted bias against African American defendants and victims. Explanations and implications are discussed.