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NCJ Number: 183237 Find in a Library
Title: Role of Victim Characteristics in the Disposition of Murder Cases
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:17  Issue:2  Dated:June 2000  Pages:281-307
Author(s): Eric P. Baumer; Steven F. Messner; Richard B. Felson
Date Published: June 2000
Page Count: 27
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examines how victims’ conduct and victims’ demographic characteristics affect the disposition of murder cases at various stages of the criminal justice process.
Abstract: Victims’ age and past conduct did not significantly influence legal outcomes in murder cases, but their race, gender, and conduct at the time of the incident did. Although these effects varied across the criminal justice decision making stages considered, they generally were consistent with the claim that killings of disreputable or stigmatized victims tend to be treated more leniently. This claim is based on two underlying processes: (1) Disreputable or stigmatized victims are more likely to be considered blameworthy, and this blame should detract from the blame attributed to the offender; and (2) Offenders who kill disreputable or stigmatized victims are perceived as having committed less harm. There was some evidence that the effects of victim characteristics were stronger in jury proceedings than in bench proceedings, and that the influence of a victim’s race on the disposition of murder cases was conditioned by the racial composition of the county in which the case was processed. Notes, tables, references
Main Term(s): Victims of Crime
Index Term(s): Demography; Judicial attitudes; Jury decisionmaking; Murder; Murderers; Offender profiles; Physical appearance; Racial discrimination; Victim profiles
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