Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Emily Haney-Caron

Second Reader

Erika Fountain

Third Advisor

Maureen Allwood


This study examined parent acquiescence to attorney recommendations pertaining to plea bargain decisions, as well as whether this differed based on the racial similarity between an attorney and their juvenile client’s parent. Past research has shown that youth are vulnerable to the influence of perceived authority figures in a plea-bargain setting, leading them to rely heavily on the input of their parents and attorneys for how to plead. This study expands the literature to include how attorney race impacts parents’ plea decisions. A sample of parents of youth aged 11- 17 read a vignette, in which attorney race was manipulated, imagining a scenario in which they are participating in a plea-bargaining process and their attorney is giving them a recommendation regarding whether or not to accept a plea offer. Results showed that White parents overall were more likely to take the plea bargain and had more trust in the attorneys. Black attorneys were found to be the most trustworthy, which was especially true for White parents. The race of the parent had more of a significant impact on plea advice acquiescence than did attorney/parent racial similarity.



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