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NCJ Number: 212726 Find in a Library
Title: Public Views on Sentencing Juvenile Murderers: The Impact of Offender, Offense, and Perceived Maturity
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:January 2006  Pages:55-74
Author(s): Brandon K. Applegate; Robin Davis
Date Published: January 2006
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using a randomly selected sample of Florida citizens and a factorial-vignette survey approach, this study assessed the impact of offender characteristics, offense characteristics, and perceptions of a juvenile's maturity on respondent preferences for the punishment of juvenile murderers.
Abstract: A random sample of 967 Florida residents were mailed a questionnaire. To measure punishment preferences under varying circumstances, each respondent was presented with a vignette that either involved manslaughter, attempted murder, murder as an outcome of an argument, and two first-degree murders committed during a robbery. From a list of 13 sentencing options, the respondents were asked to choose a sentence for the hypothetical offender described in the vignette. The scenarios were constructed as factorial-survey vignettes, meaning that each attribute for each variable was randomly assigned in each vignette. This allowed researchers to examine the independent influence of each factor on attitudes toward punishment. Data were also obtained on characteristics of the respondents. A total of 470 usable questionnaires were returned (48.6 percent response rate). The responses show that the public regards murder in general as a serious crime deserving of harsh punishment; however, the selection of specific sentences varies according to the circumstances of the murder and the characteristics of the offender. Respondents were less punitive toward juvenile offenders. The nature of the offense, however, most strongly and most consistently influenced the sentence selection. The selected harshness of the preferred punishment increased as offense vignettes changed from manslaughter to attempted murder, to murder, and to murder with one or two aggravating circumstances. Respondents reported significantly less support for capital punishment than was found in previous studies (fewer than 8 percent). 5 tables, 2 notes, 49 references, and appended distribution of vignette dimensions and levels
Main Term(s): Juvenile sentencing
Index Term(s): Juvenile capital punishment; Juvenile murderers; Murder; Murderers; Public Opinion of Corrections; Public Opinion of Crime; Public Opinion of Juveniles
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