What are some potential methods of researching the gender, race, and ethnicity of individuals in American prisons?
Specifically, what are ways in which the gender, race, and ethnicity of individuals in American prisons could be studied using interpretative and critical frameworks?
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Your main source of information for doing research on the prison population of the United States is the website run by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a branch of the United States Department of Justice. Other major sources of data concerning the United States prison population are the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. For more interpretive materials, rather than just raw statistical data, visit your university library website and look at sociology, psychology, and criminal justice databases. Many different theories can be used to analyze this data.
Contemporary Trait Theory seeks to show how biological factors can explain criminal behavior, and thus would use biology as an explanation of why women commit fewer crimes than men.
Social Structure Theory would argue that criminal behavior is determined by social factors, and thus would look into the circumstances of racially segregated neighborhoods to show how poverty and racial discrimination lead to imprisonment.
Critical Race and Gender theory would also investigate biases in the criminal justice system accounting for differential rates of imprisonment.
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