Criminology researchers are retracting five studies that have sparked a bitter battle over potential scientific misconduct and issues of race. The episode has riveted the criminology community—and severed a once close relationship after one of the researchers accused his former mentor of falsifying data.
On 10 November, Justin Pickett, a criminologist at the State University of New York in Albany, announced on Twitter that he and his co-authors have agreed to retract a 2011 study published in Criminology that examined public support for taking a suspect’s ethnicity into account at sentencing. Four additional disputed papers, published between 2015 and this year in the journals Criminology, Social Problems, and Law & Society Review, have been or are in the process of being be retracted with the agreement of all the authors, ScienceInsider has learned. Eric Stewart, Pickett’s former mentor and a criminologist at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, is a co-author of all five studies.
The studies being retracted cover a range of topics. Two found that the number of black people lynched in a U.S. county 100 years ago influences whether white people in the same area today perceive black people as a threat and favor harsh punishments for them. Another examined the role of social context in antiblack and anti-Latino sentiment in the U.S. criminal justice system.