If I were to conduct research on the effects of race and ethnicity on sentencing outcomes I would choose content analysis as my research method. I feel as though content analysis is the most appropriate research method for a topic of this nature. In order to look at the true effects ones race or ethnicity might have on sentencing, one needs to look at the bare facts. Facts such as the race or ethnicity of the offender, the offender’s gender, the crime which the offender committed, and the charge the offender was sentenced with. This type of information can be collected from official police and court records. Furthermore, if any previous studies on this topic were to be analyzed it would also fall under the category of content analysis.
I feel that a study of this nature would take a mixed methods approach. If I were to examine the variables mentioned above, I would use both qualitative and quantitative data. Clearly, the variables mentioned are qualitative in nature. Variables such as race/ethnicity, gender, crime...
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...city on sentencing one would hope that the original sentencing decision was unbiased in its nature. However, it is well known that judges possess a great deal of discretion and often times their biased opinions affect their sentencing decisions.
In conclusion, I would conduct a research study on the effects of race and ethnicity on sentencing outcomes within federal courts. I would conduct a content analysis with a mixed method approach using an embedded design of the data. I would situate my study within the State of Illinois collecting my sample from the Northern, Central, and Southern Illinois District Courts. As with most research, there are some ethical concerns. The bulk of the ethical concern is with accessing the records in order to maintain the data. However, I feel confident that this research study would still be possible and the results ethically viable.
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