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NCJ Number: 210537 Find in a Library
Title: State of the Prisons: Exploring Public Knowledge and Opinion
Journal: Howard Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:44  Issue:3  Dated:July 2005  Pages:286-306
Author(s): Julian V. Roberts; Mike Hough
Date Published: July 2005
Page Count: 21
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article reviews the public opinion literature related to imprisonment, with an emphasis on British attitudes.
Abstract: There is a widespread assumption that the general public favors imprisonment as a punishment for crime, evidenced by stable or rising prison rates despite state attempts to decrease prison populations. The authors challenge that little is known about public opinion regarding the nature of custody per se because most previous public opinion research has measured views on sentencing rather than opinions specifically on imprisonment. The goal of the current analysis was to describe the public’s knowledge of imprisonment and the nature of public attitudes towards imprisonment as a sanction. The authors examined a 2003 poll that explored public opinion regarding the criminal justice system, with specific questions targeting perceptions of custody. Overall, the analysis revealed little public knowledge about the prison system, with few survey participants having ever had contact with a penal institution. British as well as international public opinion views prison life as relatively easy yet stops short of demanding tougher prison conditions for the purpose of punishment. Most of the public is of the opinion that inmates should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves in prison, yet few survey participants viewed rehabilitation as possible within the current prison system. In closing, the authors note that politicians and their advisors need to realize that there is widespread public ambivalence regarding the use of imprisonment as a sanction. There is, however, strong public support for rehabilitation as the purpose of imprisonment. Tables, notes, references
Main Term(s): Great Britain/United Kingdom; Public Opinion of Corrections
Index Term(s): Incarceration; Literature reviews; Rehabilitation; Surveys
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