Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Morgan State University Professor Seeks Black Male Youth for Research Study

Dr. Natasha C. Pratt-Harris, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD, is recruiting eligible candidates for the research project, “Black Males, Falsely Accused as Juveniles and Charged As Adults.”

Dr. Pratt-Harris began to explore the “faulty” criminal charges of the black male juvenile in the early 1990s. Preparing a critique of a news story as an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Maryland (where she double majored in criminology/criminal justice), she noted that the picture of black male juveniles accused in a rape case graced the top-fold cover of a major newspaper. Weeks after the story, the charges were dropped. She began to explore the collateral consequences of the adult criminal conviction in assessments of employment opportunities for ex-offenders (her master’s thesis topic, University of Baltimore), and in a comparative study of Black male ex-inmates and Black male college graduates (subjects in her doctoral dissertation, Howard University).

The stories of Black males who live with adult criminal records began to envelope when assessing the expungement and pardon process. She learned of men who sought expungements or pardons because they have criminal records that they claim they should not have. Dr. Pratt-Harris has conducted research about ex-inmates in the past, utilizing several methodologies (surveys, interviews, and focus groups). She has also assessed the literature on the topic of adult criminal convictions, involving juveniles, and special topics related to the falsely accused. Dr. Pratt-Harris is on the planning committee for Maryland’s 2nd Annual Disproportionate Minority Contact Conference scheduled for Wednesday October 3, 2012 on the campus of Morgan State University. She invites readers of Black Gives Back to share the study announcement and/or complete the screening questions to confirm eligibility for the study. 

Visit here to view and complete the screening questions.

About the Study
In an era of  “the innocence movement,” there has been a push to exonerate those who were falsely accused of crimes, freeing them from prison based on DNA evidence. The Innocence Project (part of the “innocence movement”) has exonerated nearly 300 men and women to date (Innocence Project, 2012). Dr. Pratt-Harris' case study explores the experiences of Black males (25 years of age or older), who were charged as adults, while juveniles, for crimes they report they did not commit. These men fall outside of the radar of the “movement” – they are not currently incarcerated and may not have DNA evidence to help prove their claimed innocence. Through an examination of video footage, that will include interviews, court records, media accounts, and observations, the case study examines the lived experience of those who claim innocence after serving time in an adult prison and/or after an adult conviction, and it offers implications for action oriented research.

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