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NCJ Number: 202355 Find in a Library
Title: Racial Differences in Perceptions of the Severity of Sanctions: A Comparison of Prison with Alternatives
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:20  Issue:3  Dated:September 2003  Pages:605-631
Author(s): Peter B. Wood; David C. May
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses racial differences in perceptions of the severity of alternative sanctions compared to imprisonment.
Abstract: Public attitudes toward criminal justice and punishment vary by respondents’ demographic characteristics. It appears that a larger proportion of Blacks than of Whites have less favorable opinions about various components of justice. The literature on public attitudes toward punishment has generally found smaller racial differences. This study focused on racial differences in the perceived severity of sanctions. The aim was to improve the understanding of why some offenders perceive alternatives as more punitive than imprisonment. Data were collected in spring 2000 from a county probation office serving an urban population of about 316,000 in northeast Indiana. The results show that Black probationers were more likely than Whites to refuse to participate in alternative sanctions. Blacks were more likely than Whites to choose imprisonment over alternatives. Among offenders that are willing to serve alternatives to avoid prison, Whites would serve longer durations of them. Black probationers evidenced significantly more concern about participating in alternatives than did Whites. These concerns center on program rules that are difficult to follow and mistreatment at the hands of parole and probation officers and other personnel that oversee the alternative sanctions -- both of which may increase the risk of revocation. The results also point to racial differences in rational choice/deterrence processes associated with criminal sanctions, particularly if Blacks produce a difference risk assessment of prison versus alternatives than do Whites. The results suggest that a brief prison term may be more of a deterrent for Whites than for Blacks. 7 tables, 34 references, appendix
Main Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Black/White Attitude Comparisons
Index Term(s): Community-based corrections (adult); Electronic monitoring of offenders; Intermediate sanctions; Parole; Probation; Sentencing/Sanctions
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