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NCJ Number: 66980 Find in a Library
Title: PUBLIC OPINION ON CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE - REPORTS PRESENTED TO THE 13TH CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH CONFERENCE, 1978 - EUROPE
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: Problems
Council of Europe
European Committee on Crime
France
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 200
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: THE INFLUENCE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION MEDIA, INCLUDING OPINION POLLS, WHICH OFTEN BOTH REFLECT AND SHAPE PEOPLE'S PERCEPTION OF CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE, IS EXPLORED IN THIS INTERNATIONAL COLLECTION OF ESSAYS.
Abstract: PRESENTED AT THE 13TH CRIMINOLOGICAL CONFERENCE OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE HELD IN 1978, THE FOUR PAPERS COMPRISING THIS REPORT DEAL WITH THE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS AND INTERPLAY OF PUBLIC INFORMATION MEDIA AND PUBLIC OPINION ON CRIME, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CRIMINAL LEGISLATION, AND OTHER RELATED TOPICS. THE FIRST ESSAY CONCERNS AN EXAGGERATED FEAR OF VIOLENT CRIME, ESPECIALLY AMONG WOMEN AND THE ELDERLY. INTERVIEWS WITH HABITUAL DAILY NEWSPAPER READERS, COMPARED WITH SELF-STYLED NONREADERS, DISCLOSED THAT FEAR OF VIOLENT CRIME IS STRONGER AMONG READERS. ANOTHER ESSAY PRESENTS AN OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE, AS WELL AS A STATE-OF-THE-ART SURVEY OF CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH ON PUBLIC OPINION IN TERMS OF SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME, AND AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF THE PENAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (ABOUT WHICH THE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWS VERY LITTLE) AND THE OPINIONS OF LEGAL EXPERTS. IT ALSO EXPLODES THE MYTH OF PUBLIC OPINION AS A MONOLITHIC BLOCK, BECAUSE PUBLIC OPINION IS REALLY VERY FRAGMENTED. THE NEXT ESSAY, FOCUSING ON MASS COMMUNICATION MEDIA (NOT CONFINED TO NEWSPAPERS AND TELEVISION, BUT ALSO INCLUDING RADIO, MAGAZINES, FILMS, AND RECORDS), PRESENTS THE ARGUMENT THAT THE MEDIA ARE INSTRUMENTAL IN THE GENERATION OF PUBLIC CRIMINOLOGICAL POLICIES. MASS MEDIA COVERAGE OF CRIME AND OFFENDERS TENDS TO PORTRAY THE WORLD AS A BATTLEFIELD ON WHICH THE FORCES OF GOOD (LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL AND LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS) ARE LOCKED IN MORTAL COMBAT WITH THE FORCES OF EVIL (THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW). THIS STEREOTYPING POLARIZES SOCIETY, AND PREVENTS THE SOCIAL REINTEGRATION (WHICH REQUIRES SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE) OF FORMER OFFENDERS, STIGMATIZED AND PERCEIVED BY THE PUBLIC AS BASICALLY UNTRUSTWORTHY AND EVIL. THE FINAL ESSAY EXPLORES PUBLIC OPINION AS A REFLECTION OF THE POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES AND VALUES OF EXISTING GOVERNMENTS. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT STATE IDEOLOGIES AND POPULAR BELIEFS ARE IDENTICAL, BUT SIMPLY THAT THE INTERPLAY AMONG THESE ELEMENTS IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO ENABLE A GOVERNMENT TO MANIPULATE CITIZENS' OPINIONS, ESPECIALLY ON SUCH EMOTIONALLY CHARGED ISSUES AS CRIMINAL POLICIES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT MEASURES, INTO DEMANDING THE TYPE OF CRIMINAL LEGISLATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTED TO ENACT IN THE FIRST PLACE. EVEN AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENTS MUST CREATE THE ILLUSION OF RESPONDING TO EXPRESSIONS OF POPULAR FEELING WHICH THEY HAVE SKILLFULLY CREATED. FOOTNOTES AND DIAGRAMS ARE INCLUDED. COMPREHENSIVE INTERNATIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHIES ARE APPENDED TO EACH ESSAY. FOR INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES, SEE NCJ 66981-83. (LGR)
Index Term(s): Council of Europe; Criminal codes; Criminology; Fear of crime; Media coverage; Penology; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public education; Public information
Note: COLLECTED STUDIES IN CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH, V 17
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66980

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