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Imprisoned Imperceptions: Inaccuracy in Incarceration Demographic Stereotypes
Unformatted Document Text:  Incarceration Beliefs comparing a sample of students in advanced criminal justice classes to a sample of commuters at a local train station. Relative expertise in the criminal justice system was expected to lead to greater accuracy in beliefs regarding the incarcerated. Method Participants Participants were drawn from two sources: a haphazard sample of commuters at the train station in New Brunswick, NJ (N= 201), and a sample of students enrolled in upper-level criminal justice classes at Rutgers University (N= 145). In the train station sample, there were 113 males, 87 females, and 1 unreported; 105 Caucasian, 44 African-American, 17 Asian-American, 21 Latino, 10 other and 4 unreported; the mean age was 32. In the student sample, there were 88 males and 57 females; 83 Caucasian, 13 African-American, 26 Asian-American, 19 Latino, and 5 other; the mean age was 21. Across both samples, there were 201 males, 144 females, and 1 unreported; 188 Caucasians, 57 African-Americans, 43 Asian-Americans, 40 Latinos, 14 other and 4 unreported; the mean age was 27. Materials Participants completed a survey asking them to estimate the proportion of the incarcerated population in the U.S. that comes from each of several social groups. Participants provided estimates regarding six target groups: females, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, those diagnosed as mentally ill, and those with a high school diploma. As a comparison, they were also asked to estimate the proportion of the entire U.S. population that each of these groups comprised. Finally, participants also estimated the proportion of the entire U.S. population that is imprisoned, and provided additional information about their own demographic characteristics, including citizenship, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment. 8

Authors: Ragusa, Laura.
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Incarceration Beliefs
comparing a sample of students in advanced criminal justice classes to a sample of commuters at a 
local train station. Relative expertise in the criminal justice system was expected to lead to greater 
accuracy in beliefs regarding the incarcerated.
Participants were drawn from two sources: a haphazard sample of commuters at the train 
station in New Brunswick, NJ (N= 201), and a sample of students enrolled in upper-level criminal 
justice classes at Rutgers University (N= 145). In the train station sample, there were 113 males, 87 
females, and 1 unreported; 105 Caucasian, 44 African-American, 17 Asian-American, 21 Latino, 10 
other and 4 unreported; the mean age was 32. In the student sample, there were 88 males and 57 
females; 83 Caucasian, 13 African-American, 26 Asian-American, 19 Latino, and 5 other; the mean 
age was 21. Across both samples, there were 201 males, 144 females, and 1 unreported; 188 
Caucasians, 57 African-Americans, 43 Asian-Americans, 40 Latinos, 14 other and 4 unreported; the 
mean age was 27.  
Participants completed a survey asking them to estimate the proportion of the incarcerated 
population in the U.S. that comes from each of several social groups.  Participants provided estimates 
regarding six target groups: females, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, those diagnosed as mentally ill, and 
those with a high school diploma. As a comparison, they were also asked to estimate the proportion 
of the entire U.S. population that each of these groups comprised. Finally, participants also estimated 
the proportion of the entire U.S. population that is imprisoned, and provided additional information 
about their own demographic characteristics, including citizenship, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and 
educational attainment.

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