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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 199894 Find in a Library
Title: Public Opinion and the Nature of Community Penalties: International Findings (From Changing Attitudes to Punishment: Public Opinion, Crime and Justice, P 33-62, 2002, Julian V. Roberts, and Mike Hough, eds., -- See NCJ-199891)
Author(s): Julian V. Roberts
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses international findings on public opinion of community penalties.
Abstract: Community sentences have traditionally been beneath imprisonment on a hierarchy of the perceived severity of sanctions because there are a wide array of penalties and a complex set of arrangements to be decided. A necessary condition for public acceptance of community penalties is public knowledge of their existence. There is considerable evidence that people support these sentences even though public knowledge of them tends to be poor. The International Crime Victimization Survey was conducted to provide insight into the levels of support for community sanctions around the world. Respondents were asked to sentence a 21-year-old offender convicted of burglary for the second time. Results show that there was considerable support for alternatives, including fines, community service, and suspended sentences. In only five countries did incarceration attract more than half the respondents. The public tends to be most positive about community sanctions that have a compensatory element, either for the specific victim or the community in general. Findings from other research have also shown that when the public is familiar with community sanctions, their support for them increases. The principal reason for public skepticism with regard to community penalties is that they appear to have insufficient impact upon the lives of the offenders to constitute an adequate response to the more serious forms of offending, especially violent crimes. The public is very attentive to representatives of victim groups and if these groups oppose the use of community sentences, this fuels public opposition. Saving the costs of incarceration and sparing the offender the pains of imprisonment alone are insufficient justification for the widespread implementation of community sanctions. Presently, members of the public respond to crime by considering how much imprisonment is appropriate, and secondly, whether a community-based sanction could possibly accomplish the goals of sentencing. 1 figure, 3 tables, 24 notes, 64 references
Main Term(s): Public education; Public Opinion of Corrections
Index Term(s): Community-based corrections (adult); Corrections; Economic impact of prisons; Fear of crime; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Victimization surveys
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