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The Sexual Stratification Hypothesis: Is the Decision to Arrest Influenced by the Victim/Suspect Racial/Ethnic Dyad?

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 34 Issue: 6 Dated: 2019 Pages: 1287-1310
Date Published
24 pages

Using quantitative data on 655 sexual assault complaints that were reported to the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department (LASD) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2008, this study examined the effect of the victim/suspect racial/ethnic dyad on the decision to arrest.


The sexual stratification hypothesis suggests that criminal justice responses to sexual victimization will differ depending on the victim/suspect racial/ethnic dyad. Previous research examining the sexual stratification hypothesis has primarily focused on court processes, and the small body of literature examining arrest decisions is dated. There remains substantial opportunity for testing the sexual stratification hypothesis at response stages apart from the court level (i.e., arrest). The findings of the current study suggest that police consider the victim/suspect racial/ethnic dyad when making arrest decisions. In addition, victim characteristics, strength of evidence indicators, and measures of case factors predict the police decision to make an arrest. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019