Examination of 'Stand Your Ground' and defendant convictions in Florida

Melody Goodman Speaker
New York University
Tuesday, Aug 8: 10:35 AM - 11:00 AM
Invited Paper Session 
Metro Toronto Convention Centre 
Previous analyses of Stand Your Ground (SYG) cases have been primarily descriptive. We examine the relationship between race of the victim and conviction of the defendant in SYG
cases in Florida from 2005 to 2013. We frame our study using Public Health Critical Race Theory Methodology. Data from the Tampa Bay Times SYG database was supplemented with
available online court documents and/or news reports (N=204 cases). The outcome is whether the case resulted in a conviction; covariates include race of the victim (White, non-White),
whether the defendant could have retreated from the situation, whether the defendant pursued the victim, if the victim was unarmed, and who was the initiator of the confrontation. We find
race of the victim to be a significant predictor of case outcome. After controlling for other variables, the defendant is two times (OR = 2.1, 95% CI [1.07, 4.10]) more likely to be convicted
in a case that involve White victims compared to those involving non-White victims. SYG legislation in Florida has a quantifiable racial bias that reveals a leniency in convictions if the
victim is non-White, which provides evidence towards unequal treatment under the law.