Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Jennifer Groscup

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This thesis consists of two studies that attempt to understand the stereotypes and disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians within the criminal justice system, for which existing research is limited. In Study 1, participants (n = 154) selected adjectives that they believed to be stereotypes of Native Hawaiians, as well as of American Indians and Black Americans. It was hypothesized that because the groups have similar histories of colonization and oppression, they may also consequently share stereotypes of criminality and inferiority, with the exception that Native Hawaiians would be uniquely marked as friendly and welcoming because of the tourism industry. Results showed that Native Hawaiians and Americans Indians were frequently assigned to spiritual, traditional, ritualistic, and superstitious. Native Hawaiians alone were most frequently assigned to friendly and tropical. Study 2 (n = 52) examined the sentencing decisions of judges for Native Hawaiian defendants as compared to White defendants. In the 2 (race of defendant) x 2 (type of crime) design, it was predicted that Native Hawaiian defendants would be assigned longer sentences than White defendants, and that when the crime was violent, the disparity between Native Hawaiian and White sentences would be larger than when crime was nonviolent. The results were not significant, although together, these studies could still help suggest why Native Hawaiians are disproportionately incarcerated in the U.S. Once the stereotypes and their implications are understood, then plans for reform can be developed.

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