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NCJ Number: 210906 Find in a Library
Title: Beyond Populist Punitiveness?
Journal: Punishment & Society  Volume:7  Issue:3  Dated:July 2005  Pages:243-258
Author(s): Neil Hutton
Date Published: July 2005
Page Count: 16
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the evidence about the public’s views on crime and punishment based on a 2002 analysis of public knowledge and attitudes in Scotland.
Abstract: Over the last 20 years, most western jurisdictions have experienced a punitive turn which is evident through the rising prison populations and the politicization of crime and punishment. Much of the survey data on public knowledge and attitudes to sentencing and punishment gathered over recent years have suggested that the public supports harsher punishment, as well as having less confidence in the criminal courts. Based on an analysis of a recent study of public knowledge and attitudes in Scotland, this article sets out to examine the evidence about the public’s view on punishment in Scotland. The results of the 2002 Scottish research are similar to the results of comparable research in other jurisdictions. A different interpretation of this evidence is proposed. It is argued that the evidence for the existence of a punitive mood is not as clear as prior interpretations. Two issues explored include: (1) an analysis of data gathered by different methodologies suggesting that public opinion on punishment is not clear, one-dimensional, or stable, but contradictory and fragile and (2) the methodologies are not neutral tools used to gather independent data. Although global trends point to ever-increasing prison populations and increasing populism in criminal justice politics, there are local conditions in Scotland, and not doubt elsewhere, which suggest that an alternative future is possible. Notes, references
Main Term(s): Public Opinion of Crime
Index Term(s): Criminology; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Punishment; Scotland; Sentencing/Sanctions
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