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NCJ Number: 66981 Find in a Library
Title: EXTENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION AND THE NATURE OF PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME (FROM PUBLIC OPINION ON CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE - EUROPE, 1979 - SEE NCJ-66980)
Author(s): P ROBERT
Corporate Author: Problems
Council of Europe
European Committee on Crime
France
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 74
Type: Best Practice/State-of-the-Art Review
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: THE EXTENT OF PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE IN THE FIELD OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND ITS EFFECTIVENESS IN CONTROLLING CRIME, AND THE INFLUENCE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION MEDIA, INCLUDING OPINION POLLS, IN SHAPING PUBLIC ATTITUDES, ARE EXAMINED.
Abstract: INTENDED FOR AN AUDIENCE OF CRIMINOLOGY EXPERTS, THIS STUDY EVALUATES CURRENT RESEARCH IN THE SPECIALIZED FIELD OF PUBLIC INFORMATION ON THE SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME, WHICH, AS DEFINED HERE, MEANS THE WAYS IN WHICH SOCIETY DEALS WITH OFFENDERS (E.G., THROUGH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM, CORRECTIONS, CRIME PREVENTION MEASURES, HEALTH AND PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES). QUOTING EXTENSIVELY FROM INTERNATIONAL SOURCES ON CRIMINOLOGY, PENOLOGY, AND THE SOCIAL BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, THIS STUDY NOTES THAT FINDINGS ON THE SUBJECT OF PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS AND ATTITUDES OF THE SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME ARE OFTEN CONTRADICTORY AND RIDDEN WITH AMBIGUITIES, BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF A SOLID CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND, FAULTY METHODOLOGIES, AND LACK OF UNIFORM CRITERIA IN ANALYZING THE DATA COLLECTED THROUGH PUBLIC SURVEYS AND OPINION POLLS. EVEN THE CONCEPT OF PUBLIC OPINION IS AMBIGUOUS, BECAUSE IT IS ALL TOO OFTEN DEFINED IN TERMS OF PEOPLE'S RESPONSES TO PUBLIC OPINION POLLS, THEMSELVES NOT ONLY OF DOUBTFUL INFORMATIONAL VALUE, BUT, IN SOME CASES, THE FABRICATORS OF THE FACTS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO REVEAL. SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME AS CONCEPTUALIZED IN THIS STUDY MEANS NOT ONLY THE MECHANISMS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE DELIVERY, BUT ALSO THE EARLY PROCESSES WHICH SET THOSE MECHANISMS IN MOTION, SUCH AS THE VICTIM-OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP; THE VICTIM'S DECISION TO CALL THE POLICE; AND HOW THE POLICE, PROSECUTORS, AND JUDGES CHOOSE TO EXERCISE THEIR DISCRETIONARY POWERS. RESEARCHERS SHOULD CLEARLY DEFINE WHAT THEY MEAN BY PUBLIC IN THIS CONTEXT (E.G., ORDINARY CITIZENS, GROUPS WHICH HAVE A DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF CRIME, SUCH AS VICTIMS, CRIMINALS, POLICE AND CORRECTIONAL PERSONNEL, PURVEYORS OF PUBLIC INFORMATION) AND THE OBJECTS OF THE PUBLIC ATTITUDES ANALYZED (E.G., CRIMINAL CODES, CRIME, CRIMINALS, THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, CORRECTIONS, AND THE LATTER'S DETERRENT IMPACT). CONTRADICTORY RESEARCH FINDINGS INCLUDE SUPPOSED PUBLIC KNOWLEDGEABILITY ON CRIMINAL LAWS AND THE WORKINGS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, OR THE PUBLIC'S ALLEGED IGNORANCE ON ALL THESE MATTERS; AND THE IMAGE OF PUBLIC OPINION AS A MONOLITHIC WHOLE, AS CONSTRASTED TO THE ACTUAL FRAGMENTATION OF PUBLIC OPINION ON ALL POSSIBLE ISSUES. POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES SHOULD ALSO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT BY RESEARCHERS, BECAUSE THEY ARE IMPORTANT DETERMINANTS OF PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARDS SOCIAL CONTROL OF CRIME. THE SOCIAL LAG BETWEEN CRIMINAL LAWS AND THE CHANGING SOCIAL CLIMATE WHICH GENERATES TOLERANCE OF STILL-CRIMINALIZED FORMS OF DEVIANCE PERCEIVED AS HARMLESS, IS ANOTHER DETERMINANT OF PUBLIC ATTITUDES TO BE CONSIDERED IN TOPICAL RESEACH. IN CONCLUSION, THIS STUDY SUGGESTS THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE AS A SUITABLE RESEARCH MECHANISM BECAUSE OF ITS BROAD INTERNATIONAL BASIS AND POOL OF EXPERTISE. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. AN EXTENSIVE INTERNATIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY IS APPENDED. FOR RELATED ARTICLES, SEE NCJ 66980. (LGR)
Index Term(s): Deviance; Evaluation; Foreign correctional facilities; Literature reviews; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public information; Public Opinion of Crime; Research methods; Research uses in policymaking
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66981

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