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NCJ Number: 65161 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: OFFENDED PARTIES AND OFFICIAL REACTIONS - VICTIMS AND THE SENTENCING OF CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS
Journal: SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY  Volume:20  Issue:4  Dated:(AUTUMN 1979)  Pages:529-540
Author(s): M A MYERS
Corporate Author: Midwest Sociological Soc
Dept of Sociology
Southern Illinois University
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Midwest Sociological Soc
Carbondale, IL 62901
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
William S Hein and Co, Inc
Buffalo, NY 14209
Grant Number: 76-NI-99-0071
Sale Source: William S Hein and Co, Inc
1285 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS PAPER EXAMINES VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN THE PROCESSING OF CRIMINAL DEVIANTS, EXPLORING THE EXTENT TO WHICH VICTIM BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDES AFFECT THE SANCTION IMPOSED ON DEFENDANTS.
Abstract: THE STUDY FOCUSES ON DEFENDANT CHARACTERISTICS AS WELL AS A SET OF CHARACTERISTICS THAT RELATE TO VICTIMS' ROLES AS WITNESS AND INJURED PARTY. ATTENTION IS CONFINED TO FELONIES, BUT INCLUDED A RANGE OF OFFENSES FROM THEFT AND BURGLARY TO ASSAULT AND HOMICIDE. THE DATA WERE OBTAINED FROM A RANDOM SAMPLE OF DEFENDANTS ORIGINALLY CHARGED WITH A FELONY, WHO VICTIMIZED AN INDIVIDUAL, AND WHO WERE SENTENCED AT A TRIAL IN ONE JURISDICTION DURING AN 8-MONTH PERIOD. THE FILE FOLDER OF THE DEPUTY PROSECUTOR WAS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF DATA, SUPPLEMENTED BY OTHER RECORDS. THE DEPENDENT VARIABLE OF SANCTION WAS DICHOTOMIZED AS A PRISON SENTENCE OR LESS SERIOUS PUNISHMENT. THERE WERE FOUR SETS OF INDEPENDENT VARIABLES: (1) VICTIM CHARACTERISTICS, (2) DEFENDANT CHARACTERISTICS, (3) RACIAL COMPOSITION, (4) PRIOR OUTCOMES. THE FINDINGS REVEAL A JUDICIAL PREFERENCE FOR RELYING NOT ON VICTIM OR DEFENDANT CHARACTERISTICS BUT ON THE DECISIONS OF OTHER OFFICIALS, SUCH AS PROBATION OFFICERS. CONTRARY TO EXPECTATION, A PRIOR VICTIM RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DEFENDANT DOES NOT OPERATE AS A MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE. UNLIKE JUDGES, PROBATION OFFICERS TREAT FEMALE DEFENDANTS PREFERENTIALLY, BY RECOMMENDING LESS SEVERE SENTENCES. HOWEVER, IN ALL CASES A SERIOUS PRIOR RECORD INCREASES THE SEVERITY OF SANCTIONS RECOMMENDED BY PROBATION OFFICERS. THE MOST STRIKING FEATURE OF THESE FINDINGS IS THAT VICTIM CHARACTERISTICS HAVE ONLY MARGINALLY SIGNIFICANT DIRECT EFFECTS UPON SANCTIONING BY JUDGES. IN CONTRAST, THE PROBATION OFFICERS' DECISIONS TOOK SEVERAL VICTIM CHARACTERISTICS INTO ACCOUNT. IN GENERAL, A DISCREDITED OR CULPABLE VICTIM MITIGATES THE DEFENDANT'S CULPABILITY AND ELICITS MORE LENIENT SENTENCES. THE EFFECT OF THE DEFENDANT'S RACE IS TO SOME DEGREE CONTINGENT UPON THE RACE OF THE VICTIM. THE IMPORTANT ROLE PLAYED BY PROBATION OFFICERS IN THESE FINDINGS ARGUES FOR GREATER THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL ATTENTION TO THESE OFFICIALS. TABULAR DATA AND REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (MRK)
Index Term(s): Felony; Judicial decisions; Probation or parole officers; Sentencing/Sanctions; Testimony; Victim crime precipitation; Victim-offender relationships; Victimology
Note: REVISION OF PAPER PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETINGS OF THE AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, 1978, SAN FRANCISCO, (CA) PRICE QUOTED IS FOR THE ENTIRE ISSUE.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65161

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