Read work published by CJPOL members and affiliates.

*research uses data collected by the lab 

 Racial Attitudes and Criminal Justice Policy
Crime and Justice: A Review of Research (Vol. 50)

Francis T. Cullen, Leah C. Butler, & Amanda Graham

ABSTRACT: Empirical research on public policy preferences must attend to Whites’ animus toward Blacks. For a quarter-century, studies have consistently found that Kinder and Sanders’s four-item measure of “racial resentment” is a robust predictor of almost every social and criminal justice policy opinion. Racial animus increases Whites’ opposition to social welfare policies that benefit Blacks and their support for punitive policies that disadvantage this “out-group.” Any public opinion study that fails to include racial resentment risks omitted variable bias. Despite the continuing salience of out-group animus, recent scholarship, especially in political science, has highlighted other racial attitudes that can influence public policy preferences. Two developments are of particular importance. First, Chudy showed the progressive impact of racial sympathy, a positive out-group attitude in which Whites are distressed by incidents of Blacks’ suffering (such as the killing of George Floyd). Second, Jardina and others documented that Whites’ in-group racial attitudes, such as White identity/consciousness or white nationalism, have political consequences, reinforcing the effects of racial resentment. As the United States becomes a majority-minority nation, diverse in-group and out-group racial attitudes are likely to play a central role in policies—including within criminal justice—that the public endorses.

“Bad Hombres” at the Southern U.S. Border? White Nationalism and the Perceived Dangerousness of Immigrants
Journal of Criminology

Teresa C. Kulig, Amanda Graham, Francis T. Cullen, Alex Piquero, & Murat Haner

ABSTRACT: As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump heightened the salience of immigration, portraying those crossing the nation’s Southern border as “bad hombres” and advocating building a wall blocking their access to the United States from Mexico. Based on a 2019 MTurk study of 465 White adults, the current study found that a clear majority of respondents rejected this stereotype of Southern immigrants as “bad hombres,” judging them to be just as law-abiding as Americans. Importantly, however, the analysis revealed that two innovative measures—Hispanic resentment and, in particular, White nationalism—were consistently related to perceptions of immigrants as criminogenic. Given the growing demographic diversity of the United States, future research should consider the increasing influence of racial/ethnic resentment and White group identity on public opinions about immigration and other justice issues.

What Does the Public Want Police to Do During Pandemics? A National Experiment
Criminology & Public Policy

Justin Nix, Stefan Ivanov, & Justin T. Pickett

RESEARCH SUMMARY: We administered a survey experiment to a national sample of 1068 U.S. adults in April 2020 to determine the factors that shape support for various policing tactics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents were sharply divided in their views about pandemic policing tactics and were least supportive of policies that might limit public access to officers or reduce crime deterrence. Information about the health risks to officers, but not to inmates, significantly increased support for “precautionary” policing, but not for “social distance” policing. The information effect was modest, but may be larger if the information came from official sources and/or was communicated on multiple occasions. Other factors that are associated with attitudes toward pandemic policing include perceptions of procedural justice, altruistic fear, racial resentment, and authoritarianism.

Redemption at a Correctional Turning Point: Public Support for Rehabilitation Ceremonies
Federal Probation

Leah C. Butler, Alexander L. Burton, Angela J. Thielo, Francis T. Cullen, Velmer S. Burton

ABSTRACT: The authors studied the extent to which the American public would support the implementation of rehabilitation ceremonies, including certificates. Using a national-level survey they commissioned YouGov to undertake, the authors examined public views about the redeemability of offenders--whether they believe that those convicted of felonies are intractably criminal or have the potential to change for the better. Results of the survey indicate substantial belief in offender redeemability and support for rehabilitation ceremonies and certificates.

Tortured Logic: Why Some Americans Support the Use of Torture in Counterterrorism
Columbia University Press

Erin M. Kearns & Joseph K. Young

BOOK SUMMARY: Experts in the intelligence community say that torture is ineffective. Yet much of the public appears unconvinced: surveys show that nearly half of Americans think that torture can be acceptable for counterterrorism purposes. Why do people persist in supporting torture—and can they be persuaded to change their minds?

In Tortured Logic, Erin M. Kearns and Joseph K. Young draw upon a novel series of group experiments to understand how and why the average citizen might come to support the use of torture techniques. They find evidence that when torture is depicted as effective in the media, people are more likely to approve of it. Their analysis weighs variables such as the ethnicity of the interrogator and the suspect; the salience of one’s own mortality; and framing by experts. Kearns and Young also examine who changes their opinions about torture and how, demonstrating that only some individuals have fixed views while others have more malleable beliefs. They argue that efforts to reduce support for torture should focus on convincing those with fluid views that torture is ineffective. The book features interviews with experienced interrogators and professionals working in the field to contextualize its findings. Bringing empirical rigor to a fraught topic, Tortured Logic has important implications for understanding public perceptions of counterterrorism strategy. (Columbia University Press)

Other Publications

Authored/co-authored by CJPOL faculty and graduate students

Anderson, A. L., Chao, W., & Schwadel, P. (2019). Evolving attitudes towards capital punishment. In C. Spohn, & P. Brennan (Eds.) Sentencing Policies and Practices in the 21st Century, Handbook on Corrections and Sentencing (Vol. 4., p. 237-253). New York, NY: Routledge.

Anderson, A. L., Lytle, R., & Schwadel, P.. (2017) Age, period, and cohort effects of death penalty attitudes in the United States: 1974-2014. Criminology, 55, 833868.

Burton, A. L., Burton, V. S., Jr., Cullen, F. T., Pickett, J. T., Butler, L. C., & Thielo, A. J. (2020). Beyond the New Jim Crow: Public support for removing and regulating collateral consequences. Federal Probation, 84, 19–33.

Burton, A. L., Cullen, F. T., Burton, V. S., Jr., Graham, A.., Butler, L. C., & Thielo, A. J. (2020). Belief in redeemability and punitive public opinion: “Once a Criminal Always a Criminal” revisited. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 47, 712–732.

Cullen, F. T., Graham, A., Hannan, K. R., Burton, A. L., Butler, L. C., & Burton, V. S. Jr. (2021). Catholics and capital punishment: Do Pope Francis’s teachings matter in policy preferences? Punishment & Society.

Dolliver, M. L., & Kearns, E. M. (2022). Is it terrorism?: Public perceptions, media, and labeling the Las Vegas shooting. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 22, 1–19.

Graham, A., Cullen, F. T., Butler, L. C., Burton, A. L., & Burton, V. S., Jr. (2021). Who wears the MAGA hat? White nationalism and faith in Trump. Socius.

Hannan, K. R., Cullen, F. T., Butler, L. C., Burton, A. L., Graham, A., & Burton, V. S., Jr. (2021). Racial sympathy and support for capital punishment: A case study in concept transfer. Deviant Behavior.

Kearns, E. M., Betus, A. E., & Lemieux, A. F. (2021). When data do not matter: Exploring public perceptions of terrorism. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 44, 285309.

Kearns, E. M., & Delehanty, C. (2021). The Fast & The Furious...Torturous?: Examining the impact of torture scenes in popular films on public perceptions of torture policy. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Lemieux, A. F., Kearns, E. M., Asal, V., & Walsh, J. I. (2017). Support for political mobilization and protest in Egypt and Morocco: An online experimental study. Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, 10, 124142. 

Lowrey-Kinberg, B., Mellinger, H., & Kearns, E. M. (2020). How social dominance orientation shapes perceptions of police. Policing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Schwadel, P., & Anderson, A. L. (2021). Religion and Americans’ fear of crime in the 21st century. Review of Religious Research.