Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $165,000)
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2012, many state lawmakers across the United States began to reassess criminal justice system policies and practices with an eye toward racial equity. In Vermont, reflection produced Act 193 which mandates that law enforcement agencies collect data on roadside stops for the purpose of evaluating racial disparities. However, researchers attempting to analyze traffic stop and other administrative data have encountered several challenges due to Vermont’s small population and rural nature. These issues are exacerbated when attempting to learn about marginalized populations within the State. This has been frustrating for criminal justice stakeholders attempting to review practices and equally frustrating, if not more so, for BIPOC community members who do not see their experiences reflected in research published about the criminal justice system. As such, project researchers partnered with representatives from local NAACP chapters to identify areas of concern for BIPOC community members. From these discussions arose one main research question – How do BIPOC defendants perceive the actions of courtroom actors? To address this question, researchers will conduct in-depth interviews with approximately 70 individuals who are currently defendants or who have been defendants in Southern Vermont within the last 5 years. After interview recordings have been transcribed, the abductive process will guide analysis of the data meaning that researchers will shift between consulting the project’s data and existing theory (e.g., procedural justice, critical race) to develop most appropriate explanations for themes identified during the coding process. To strengthen reliability and validity, persons with lived experience will work with researchers to finalize the codebook and conduct inter-rater reliability. The study’s findings will be detailed in a final report that will be distributed to community stakeholders and policymakers. Findings will also be disseminated via briefs, presentations, and academic publications. "nca/ncf"