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NCJ Number: 201530 Find in a Library
Title: Public Opinion and Mandatory Sentencing: A Review of International Findings
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:30  Issue:4  Dated:August 2003  Pages:483-508
Author(s): Julian V. Roberts
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 26
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews the international research literature concerning public opinion regarding mandatory sentencing laws.
Abstract: During the 1990’s western nations around the world instituted mandatory sentencing policies that greatly curtailed judicial discretion. Public support for mandatory sentencing is widely touted as justification for such laws. Not surprisingly, politicians espouse support for mandatory sentencing when running for public office. Despite these trends, scientifically valid surveys of public opinion regarding mandatory sentencing laws are not cited to support mandatory sentencing policies. This article reviews the international literature about mandatory sentencing laws which reveal that the public is divided about mandatory sentencing. Findings from the international survey research indicate that the public is more supportive of proportionate sentencing than they are for the utilitarian correctional goals of deterrence or incapacitation. Additionally, the survey data suggested that the political advantage of espousing mandatory sentencing laws is overstated. The author concludes that mandatory sentencing laws curtail the court’s ability to impose proportional sentences, which survey research shows the public is more in favor of than the punitive sentencing goals of denunciation and deterrence. References
Main Term(s): Mandatory Sentencing
Index Term(s): International literature; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Surveys
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