Date of Award

3-1-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Criminology

First Advisor

Jennifer L. Gossett, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kate Hanrahan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jamie Martin, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Dave Myers, Ph.D.

Abstract

The present study examines the effects of individual and law school factors on the perceptions of African-American, gay, and lesbian hate crime victims for 283 law school students from two schools in western Pennsylvania. Although research on the perceptions of hate crimes and hate crime victims has increased over the last decade, research has neglected to focus on this particular population of students. This population is important because many of these law students will seek roles in the criminal justice system, while other students may have careers as lawmakers. Both of these career choices are important in how hate crime cases are processed and how victims are treated by the criminal justice system. Previous research also has neglected the consideration of school factors on perceptions of hate crimes and hate crime victims. The impact of individual factors on these perceptions is important; however, it also is important that school factors be examined to determine their unique impact on perceptions of hate crime victims. Students of two law schools located in western Pennsylvania completed a Webbased survey, where they provided their level of agreement with a set of real-life hate crime scenarios. The data collected were analyzed using multivariate analyses and comparison models. The analyses found that the different victims shared predictors, but there also were predictors unique to each set of victims. For this sample of law students, there were a total of five significant predictors for each victim group, with four shared between the victim groups. These shared predictors included: level of racism, prior hate crime victimization, views of gays and lesbians, and sex. Higher levels of racism, prior hate crime victimization, unfavorable views of gays and lesbians, and being male were associated with lower levels of agreement with the hate crime scenarios. Having completed the law school’s course(s) on criminal law/criminal procedure was a unique predictor for the African-American Hate Crime Scenarios, while undergraduate major was the unique predictor for the Gay/Lesbian Hate Crime Scenarios. Finally, the results showed the individual factors explained more of the variation in the scores on the scenarios than the law school factors.

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