Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




A total of 191 participants completed the 2 (Race of victim: African American, Caucasian) x 2 (Content of Victim Impact Statement (VIS): Sentence Recommendation Only, Both Sentence Recommendation and Harm Statement) x 2 (Jury Guidelines for VIS: No guidance, Explicit instructions to weigh the harm statement with other aggravating and mitigating factors) between subjects factorial design study. The study assessed the relationship between the victim's race (African-American or Caucasian), the content of victim impact statements, and the judge's guidelines/instructions for interpreting/using the Victim Impact Statement (VIS) in the sentencing phase of a defendant's trial for burglary and aggravated battery. The results revealed race of the victim and judge's instructions had no impact on sentencing, or on the goals of sentencing as hypothesized. However, type of VIS was found to have significant effects on sentencing, goals of sentencing, as well as on the participants' perceptions of the victim. Finally, limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.