Honors Projects


It is believed that the punitive values of the United States have had a direct positive correlation with the mass incarceration rates experienced in the United States. Many studies have attempted to understand variation in punitiveness across social groups, and have found that there are consistent racial differences that exist. Past research mostly focused on differences between Black and White individuals, but none has included the analysis of those of Hispanic origin. Using pooled data from the 2014, 2016, and 2018 General Social Survey (N = 7,753), the current project examines racial/ethnic differences in punitiveness for White, Black, and Hispanic individuals controlling for highest level of education level and their gender, which has been measured by biological sex. Punitiveness has been measured by opinion on use of the death penalty and harshness of courts. It has been found that overall White individuals are more likely than Black and Hispanic individuals to be punitive, and these racial differences exist when controlling for education and gender. One exception is that Hispanic individuals with higher education are more likely to be punitive than their White counterparts. These results warrant further research into the effect higher education has on Hispanic individuals.


Honors Program



First Advisor

Dr. Kei Nomaguchi

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Andrew Kozal

Second Advisor Department

Criminal Justice

Publication Date

Spring 2020