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Impact of Racial Slurs and Racism on the Perceptions and Punishment of Violent Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 23 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2008 Pages: 685-701
Donald A. Saucier; Jericho M. Hockett; Andrew S. Wallenberg
Date Published
May 2008
17 pages
This study investigated factors that affect individuals' perceptions and punishments of violent crimes involving perpetrators and victims of different races.
When a crime is committed by an individual of one race against an individual of another race, there is the possibility that the crime is a hate crime. Legislation often mandates harsher penalties for perpetrators convicted of crimes determined to be hate crimes, yet this determination is difficult to make. This study used vignettes of violent crimes to examine how the races of the perpetrators and victims, the severity of the assault, and the use of racial slurs by the perpetrators would affect perceptions of the crimes as "hate crimes," victim blaming, and sentencing recommendations. Results showed that each of these factors affected participants' perceptions and punishments of violent crime. Participants' levels of racism were an additional factor. These results contribute to the understanding of how crimes in which the perpetrator's and victim's races differ are perceived. (Published Abstract)