Perceived Racial and Ethnic Composition of Neighborhood and Support for Punitive Measures

Ranee McEntire, ADAM/Georgia State University
Ted Chiricos, Florida State University

The equation of race and criminal threat is so well established in American culture that some regard popular discourse about crime and punishment to be part of the rhetorical code of "modern racism." It has been hypothesized that the increasingly punitive attitudes of Americans toward crime is related to this association of blacks with criminality. This study examines the link between perceived racial and ethnic composition of neighborhood and support for punitive measures to deal with criminals. Using a 1997 statewide sample of 2250 Florida residents, we hypothesize that the greater the percentage of blacks and Hispanics perceived to be in a neighborhood, the more support there will be for harsh measures to deal with crime. Regression estimates will control for fear of criminal victimization, fear of racial and ethnic "others," racial prejudice, demographic variables, and other factors related to punitive attitudes.

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Updated 05/20/2006