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NCJ Number: 229191 Find in a Library
Title: Place of Public Fear in Sentencing and Correctional Policy
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:37  Issue:6  Dated:November-December 2009  Pages:586-595
Author(s): Carrie L. Cook; Jodi Lane
Date Published: December 2009
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In addition to replicating the work of Cullen and colleagues by examining public perceptions of crime salience, crime causation, goals of the criminal justice system, and attitudes toward imprisonment and rehabilitation, this study uniquely examined public perceptions of the importance of legislators' consideration of public fear in decisionmaking about sentencing and correctional policy.
Abstract: The findings of this study were similar to previous research in showing that the public supports both rehabilitation and punishment, believes in both crime control and justice goals of the criminal justice system, and believes in both positivistic and classical causes of crime. The sample moderately supported the view that legislators should consider public fear when formulating sentencing and correctional policy, but there was less support for the notion that decreasing fear levels should influence policy. Unexpectedly, some variables that were significant predictors of attitudes in other studies, such as sex, race, and political beliefs, did not predict whether public fear should influence policy. Support for imprisonment and belief in positivistic crime causation (that factors outside an individual contribute to an individual's criminal behavior) were important predictors of believing that legislators should consider public fear in decisions about sentencing and correctional policymaking. In addition, belief in positivistic causes of crime significantly influenced support for decreasing punitive policies in association with reductions in public fear. The study surveyed a sample of 334 undergraduates at a large Southeastern university. Most of the questions in the survey were duplicated from the work of Cullen and colleagues. The analysis examined how independent and control variables influenced two dependent variables: student attitudes about the importance of public fear considerations in legislator decisions about sentencing and correctional policy, as well as level of agreement as to whether legislators should reduce sentencing severity as level of public fear decreases. 6 tables and 106 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Fear of crime; Legislation; Legislative issues; Public Opinion of Corrections; Public Opinion of the Courts; Sentencing/Sanctions
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