This continues our series of student reflections and analysis authored by our research team.
Welcoming a hiatus of coding new cases for the project, the tPP team has embarked on personal analyses of a tentatively ‘finalized’/partial dataset. Over the past few weeks, team members began individual quantitative and qualitative studies, with the intention of answering distinct research questions. Whether investigating the entire dataset, or examining the relationships of specific variables, research has assumed a new structure of inquiry. Rather than data gathering, members have selected topics of interest within the dataset to research.
Topics of interest have ranged from conducting case studies of insanity pleas to interpreting the implications of post-9/11 sweeps. Other theses include an examination of the correlation of military status and other variables; an inspection of what variables warrant deportation within a sentencing; and an analysis of the disparity between female and male defendants.
As I discussed in my last blog, I took a particular likening to the influence of foreign affiliation on the prosecution of political violence in the United States, throughout the coding process. Using the finalized dataset, I applied descriptive statistics to the variables that were of my interest. To analyze the relationship between foreign influence and length of sentencing, I compared both ‘foreign affiliation’ and ‘citizenship’ to the ‘length of jail sentence’ variable. The results of the statistics revealed that both variables impacted the average length of sentencing, but in juxtaposing fashion.
In regards to citizenship, the findings of my research revealed:
- The average length of sentencing for defendants who are foreign citizens without affiliation to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is 41.38 months; whereas the average length of sentencing for American citizens without affiliation to an FTO is 109.98 months.
- In regards to foreign affiliation, the research conceded that defendants who were American citizens and affiliated with an FTO received an average sentence length of 146.53 months, while American citizens not affiliated with an FTO (as aforementioned) contrastingly received an average sentence of 109.98 months.
- Most significantly, when a defendant was both a foreign citizen and affiliated with an FTO, the average sentencing was 144.62 months; and, to reiterate, when a defendant was neither a foreign citizen, nor affiliated with an FTO, the average sentencing was 109.98 months.
The results of this research were unexpected as I hypothesized that foreign citizenship and positive foreign affiliation would both warrant longer average sentences than their counterparts; however, the statistics reveal that foreign citizenship, on average, resulted in lighter sentences than cases involving American defendants. This finding is an intriguing prospect for further analysis of the trends in prosecutions of political violence within the United States. Otherwise, I was correct in my supposition that foreign affiliation would generate a longer average sentencing within tPPs case pool. I plan on using these results to pursue grounded theory methodology and develop a universal understanding of the power of foreign influence in the prosecution of political violence cases.
As I continue to interpret the findings from my quantitative study, I intend to further examine the prominent FTOs apparent within the dataset. Additionally, I am determined to expose the reality that the majority of cases within our dataset do not involve FTO affiliation, but rather radiate from domestic terrorist groups. Because there is an obvious misconception surrounding the origins of terrorism in the United States, I anticipate that research disclosing the frequency and intensity of foreign influence will reject stigmas and potentially reconstruct the operation of the United States’ judicial system.
Izzy Bielamowicz is a Junior pursuing a degree in Political Science with a double minor in Criminology and Philosophy and Law. Izzy has been with tPP since August 2018.