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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 199898 Find in a Library
Title: Public Support for Correctional Rehabilitation in America: Change or Consistency? (From Changing Attitudes to Punishment: Public Opinion, Crime and Justice, P 128-147, 2002, Julian V. Roberts, and Mike Hough, eds., -- See NCJ-199891)
Author(s): Francis T. Cullen; Jennifer A. Pealer; Bonnie S. Fisher; Brandon K. Applegate; Shannon A. Santana
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 20
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 chapter discusses the American public’s support for correctional rehabilitation.
Abstract: Research conducted over the past two decades reveals consistent support for rehabilitation as a correctional goal. It seems that support for rehabilitation as the dominant goal of corrections declined between the latter part of the 1960's and the 1980's. Even with the decline in support for rehabilitation, offender treatment remained a reasonably popular goal of prisons. Public support for the rehabilitation of juveniles is particularly strong. In the present study, Survey Sampling, Inc. provided a secure national sample of households in 50 States and the District of Columbia. Results show that the sample showed clear support for the punishment of offenders. Seventy-four percent favored the death penalty and 54 percent felt that the courts in the area did not deal harshly enough with criminals. The respondents were disproportionately male, White, and the mean age was 55 years. Over 55 percent of the sample agreed that rehabilitation should be the main emphasis of prisons. Eight out of 10 respondents selected rehabilitation as the main goal of juvenile prisons. Support for early intervention programs was even higher, with the public advocating a variety of programs and favoring prevention over imprisonment as a strategy of reducing crime. There are three possible reasons for the tenacity of the rehabilitative ideal. First, compared to most other Western industrial nations, the United States is a religious nation. Second, although Americans embrace the ideal of individual rights and mistrust government power, they also are utilitarian. Third, Americans are often portrayed as embracing a strong belief in individualism, a view that should make them believe that crime is a choice and that such conduct would be less likely if choosing it was made less attractive through the threat of harsh punishments. They are likely to see rehabilitation as necessary to reverse the consequences of being exposed to criminogenic conditions beyond offenders’ control. 5 tables, 3 notes, 46 references
Main Term(s): Public Opinion of Corrections; Rehabilitation
Index Term(s): Attitude measurement; Attitudes; Community-based corrections (adult); Community-based corrections (juvenile); Corrections policies; Public Attitudes/Opinion
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