Is the Legal System Harsher on Black Women than on White? Research Proposal by Nicky

Is the Legal System Harsher on Black Women than on White?
A research proposal to investigate if African American women receive harsher sentencing than their Caucasian counterparts.
# 147419 | 3,506 words | 8 sources | APA | 2011 | US

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This paper presents a research proposal to explore racial bias in the criminal justice system. It looks at paired analysis of sentencing practices between Caucasian women and African American women for similar crimes. This research supports the hypothesis that sentencing practice affords stiffer sentences for African American women than for Caucasian women who have committed similar crimes. The paper includes a literature review on the subject as well as a copy of the cover letter and survey to be sent out to participants.

Topic/Research Question
Statement of Problem
Independent and Dependent Variables
Analysis and Results
Review of Literature and Theoretical Perspective
Appendix - cover letter and survey

From the Paper:

''This is the ideal justice system that exists in the annals of law journals, policies and procedures. However, policies and procedures can only control an individual to a certain extent. Judges, juries, prosecutors, and public defenders are people, just like any one else. As such, they can allow their own feelings to contaminate their decisions. They know that this is wrong, but many do not recognize these qualities in themselves. They do not see the racism in their decisions. However, more than two hundred years of racial prejudice and social teaching cannot be erased with a pen stroke. Racial prejudice no longer exists in the policies of the criminal justice system, but in practice, it is alive and well.
The question of racial bias in the criminal justice system has been a topic of great concern. Accusations that the court system treats people differently according to the color of their skin. The focus of past research has highlighted gender bias in the sentencing of males. However, little attention has been paid to addressing whether the same applies to women in the criminal justice system as well. This research will explore sentencing in the criminal justice system for women of different racial backgrounds.
''For this study, the independent variable will consist of the crime that was committed and the sentence achieved. This study will only examine misdemeanor crime. Felonies and capital crimes are complex and often have many mitigating circumstances that could affect the outcome of the study. Misdemeanors are often less complex, with fewer mitigating circumstances, therefore would be expected to be likely to have more consistent sentencing practices. The crimes that will be examined will be limited to: drug possession, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, harassment, menacing, theft, trespass, and domestic violence. The researcher has no control of the crime committed, nor the sentence that was awarded for the crime. Therefore the crime and punishment will serve as the independent variable.''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hart, C. & Lopez, E. (2007). Evaluation of the Race Card Strategy: The Importance of Supporting Evidence. Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology. 8 (1): 1-9. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from
  • Hernandez-Julian, R. & Tomic, A. (2006). How Elected Judges Respond to the Racial Composition of their Constituencies. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2005). Answering the Call for a More Diverse Judiciary. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from
  • Mitchell, T., Haw, R., & Pfeifer, J. (2005). Racial Bias in Mock Juror Decision-Making: A Meta-Analytic Review of Defendant Treatment. Law and Human Behavior. 29 96): 621-637. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from ssner
  • National Association for Legal Career Professionals (2006). Diversity Best Practices Guide. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from

Cite this Research Proposal:

APA Format

Is the Legal System Harsher on Black Women than on White? (2011, March 29) Retrieved December 07, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Is the Legal System Harsher on Black Women than on White?" 29 March 2011. Web. 07 December. 2023. <>