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NCJ Number: 66681 Find in a Library
Title: CONCEPT OF DESERT AND ITS INFLUENCE ON SIMULATED DECISION DECISION MAKERS' SENTENCING DECISIONS
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:3  Issue:3  Dated:(1979)  Pages:163-187
Author(s): W AUSTIN
Corporate Author: Plenum Publishing Corp
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Russell Sage Foundation
New York, NY 10065
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE CONCEPT OF DESERT IS EXAMINED; ITS INFLUENCE ON SIMULATED DECISIONMAKERS' SENTENCING DECISIONS IS TESTED IN SIX EXPERIMENTAL SIMULATIONS.
Abstract: DESERT, THE PRINCIPLE THAT PUNISHMENT SHOULD BE PROPORTIONAL TO THE CRIME'S SEVERITY, HAS GAINED PROMINENCE IN THE CRIMINAL SENTENCING LITERATURE. HOWEVER, DIFFICULTIES OCCUR IN APPLYING THE CONCEPT, STEMMING FROM THE DIVERSITY OF SENTENCING GOALS IN MOST WESTERN LEGAL SYSTEMS AND FROM THE TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF BALANCING OPERATIONS (BETWEEN OFFENDERS AND WITHIN EACH OFFENSE) NECESSARY TO DETERMINE AN APPROPRIATE PUNISHMENT. IN THE PRESENT STUDY, THE OPERATION OF DESERT WITHIN OFFENSES WAS STUDIED USING HYPOTHETICAL CRIMES OF INCREASING SEVERITY. THE SIX EXPERIMENTAL SIMULATIONS VARIED THE RELATIVE DEGREES OF VICTIM SUFFERING AND OFFENDER SUFFERING. OFFENDER SUFFERING INCLUDED SUCH FACTORS AS INJURY DURING ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE. GROUPS OF UNDERGRADUATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WERE THE HYPOTHETICAL DECISIONMAKERS. RESULTS SHOWED THAT, FOR A MINOR CRIME, PUNISHMENT IS AN INVERSE MONOTONIC FUNCTION OF OFFENDER SUFFERING. IN CONTRAST, FOR CRIMES OF MODERATE AND HIGH SEVERITY, ONLY EXCESSIVE OFFENDER SUFFERING REDUCED PUNISHMENT. THE SOURCE OF OFFENDER SUFFERING MADE NO DIFFERENCE. SUFFERING HAD NO EFFECT ON CONVICTION DECISIONS. RESULTS CONFIRMED THREE HYPOTHESES: (1) RECOMMENDED SENTENCES ARE DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO CRIME SERIOUSNESS; (2) DEGREE OF OFFENDER SUFFERING IS INVERSELY RELATED TO SENTENCING; AND (3) CRIME SERIOUSNESS AND OFFENDER SUFFERING INTERACT WITH ONE ANOTHER IN THE SENTENCING DECISION. OVERALL RESULTS ARE VIEWED AS DEMONSTRATING THE INFLUENCE OF BOTH WITHIN - AND BETWEEN OFFENSE CONCEPTIONS OF DESERT AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SYMBOLIC AND MORAL BLAME COMPONENTS OF LEGAL PUNISHMENTS. TABLES AND FOOTNOTES WHICH INCLUDE REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (CFW)
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Discretionary decisions; Just deserts theory; Sentencing/Sanctions; Simul as basis for social agents decisions; Simulation; Studies
Note: BASED ON A PAPER DELIVERED AT THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGY-LAW SOCIETY MEETINGS, CHICAGO (IL), 1975
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66681

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