Stereotypes In The Judicial System

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Stereotypic preconceptions pervade society on a daily basis, but their presence and influence in the judicial system, namely jury decisions is undesirable. Jurors are heavily influential figures within the community, possessing the power to remove or grant someone their freedom. Therefore, their ability to make impartial decisions is imperative, and should not be based on prejudices or biases (Jurors Handbook,. 2012) Stereotypes are mental representations of information about a social category and includes whether we feel positively or negatively about people from that category (Lilienfeld, S. et al., 2012). Gordon, R. A,. Bindrim, Ta., McNicholas, M. L,. & Walden, T. L. (1988) examined the effect of defendant race and type of crime (blue…show more content…
L and Gray, J.M (2007) investigated whether jurors were more likely to return a guilty verdict when the defendant is male as opposed to female in a child sexual abuse case. A fictional case summary that manipulated defendant gender (male or female) and relationship to victim (mother/father, female/male stranger), was presented to 256 mock jurors who were then asked to assign a guilty or not guilty verdict. Their results determined males were significantly more likely to receive a guilty verdict when compared to females. However, this result was made up entirely of the case whereby the defendant was the alleged victim’s father. It could therefore be said, in the case of sexual abuse, it is not so much defendant gender that influences guilt likelihood, but rather relationship to the victim. McCoy, M. L and Gray, J.M (2007) restricted their experiment to a crime that was perceived as stereotypically male (sexual abuse) possibly skewing results to portray male defendants as more likely to be guilty than their female counterparts, thus being a…show more content…
Possessing the authority to remove or grant someone their freedom in the courtroom is a huge responsibility, therefore the ramifications of jury decisions being based on stereotypic preconceptions is tremendous for society, possibly destroying the reputation of the legal system as one that is impartial and fair. References: Lilienfeld, S. Lynn, S. Namy, L. Woolf, N. Jamieson, G. Haslam, N. Slaughter, V. (2012). Psychology: From inquiry to understanding. Pearson Australia. 579. McCoy, M. L and J.M Gray (2007). “The impact of defendant gender and relationship to victim on juror decisions in a child sexual abuse case” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(7), 1578-1593. Gordon, R. A,. Bindrim, Ta., McNicholas, M. L,. & Walden, T. L. (1988). “Perceptions of blue-collar and white collar crime: The effect of defendant race on simulated juror decisions.” The Journal of Social Psychology. Queensland Courts. (2011). Jurors Handbook. Available: http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/93814/sd-brochure-jurors-handbook.pdf. Last accessed 13th May
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