University of New Hampshire Students Conduct Jury Polling Project in Sexual Assault Cases

Dr. Banyard

Dr. Banyard

A group of students in the graduate degree program in justice studies at the University of New Hampshire in Durham recently conducted a jury polling project in a partnership with the state Attorney General’s office. The goal of the jury polling project was to determine and understand the factors that went into jurors’ not guilty verdicts when they deliberated in sexual assault cases. The project was part of a class on applied research methods taught by Victoria Banyard, a professor of psychology. Professor Banyard is a graduate of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

The students found that in many of the cases in which the defendant was acquitted, jurors frequently blamed the victim because of what she was wearing when the attack occurred or whether or not she had been drinking prior to the assault. The survey also found that victims who were on public assistance or were unemployed tended to be viewed negatively by jurors.

Saige Jutras, a student who participated in the project and who will earn a master’s degree in justice studies this spring, stated, “These kinds of projects are important for UNH students to conduct because they allow students, particularly graduate students, to become engaged and involved in significant societal issues such as sexual assault. Many community partners do not have expendable resources to be conducting these kinds of projects. Therefore, by having graduate students conduct them for them, we are able to aid in uncovering important information that may not be otherwise possible.”

Filed Under: Sexual Assault/Harassment


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