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How an Inmate's Conversion and Race Affect Parole Release Decisions of Mock Parole Board Members
AuthorKaufman, Jennifer A.
AdvisorMiller, Monica K.
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Conversions and race were examined to determine if they affect parole board member’s release decisions, emotions, and perceptions. The study was a 2 (race: African-American, Caucasian) X 4 (conversion: Islam, Christianity, Secular lifestyle change, no lifestyle change) factorial design. Participants read one of eight mock inmate case files and determined whether they would grant or deny parole by means of an online survey. While, previous literature and studies have suggested that racial bias is found whenever authorities have the power to make discretionary decisions (Morgan & Smith, 2008), this study found that race did not matter. In addition, it was found that religious conversions (Islam, Christianity) do not affect parole board release decisions, emotions, or perceptions. However, having a conversion did. The inmate who experienced a Secular lifestyle change was more likely to be granted parole. Also, having a conversion, religious or not, is better than not having a conversion at all (no lifestyle change) in terms of emotions and perceptions. These findings suggest that having a conversion influences parole board member’s release decisions, emotions, and perceptions.