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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 120149 Find in a Library
Title: Punishing Criminals: The Public's View -- An Alabama Survey
Author(s): J Doble; J Klein
Corporate Author: Public Agenda
United States of America
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 74
Sponsoring Agency: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
New York, NY 10177
Public Agenda
New York, NY 10016
Sale Source: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
250 Park Avenue
Room 900
New York, NY 10177
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: As policymakers are faced with the dilemma of reducing prison overcrowding without the necessary funding to build additional prison space, this study was conducted to ascertain the public's views on alternatives to incarceration, including house arrest, intensively supervised probation, restitution, and community service.
Abstract: A total of 422 citizens of Alabama, heterogenous in terms of geography, race, sex, education, and age, filled out a detailed questionnaire on their attitudes about crime, Alabama's criminal justice system, and alternative sentences. In this pretest, respondents sentenced 23 hypothetical criminals, ranging from shoplifters to rapists and armed robbers, to probation or prison. After viewing a videotape describing prison overcrowding and five alternative sentences, respondents met in discussion groups, then filled out a second questionnaire, sentencing their 23 criminals to probation, prison, or one of the five alternatives. In the pretest, respondents chose prison in 18 of the cases; in the posttest, only four criminals were sentenced, one put on probation, and the remainder were given alternative sentences. Other findings reveal that the respondents' top priority for the criminal justice system is to protect public safety, not reduce prison overcrowding or budgets; that they believe in rehabilitation; and that they believe in deterrence. The respondents' supported alternative sentences for non-violent offenders only, when those seemed more appropriate and effective means of punishment.
Main Term(s): Public Opinion of Corrections
Index Term(s): Alabama; Alternatives to institutionalization
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