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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69576 Find in a Library
Title: Support for Leniency in the Criminal Courts
Journal: Criminal Justice Review  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1979)  Pages:51-63
Author(s): S L Nock; J F Sheley
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An analysis was conducted of national survey data to discover the characteristics of persons expressing a preference for leniency in the court treatment of offenders.
Abstract: The analysis was conducted to discover these persons' characteristics and also whether such persons are capable of bringing organized influence to bear on the general public or on legislators and judges, as reform movements require strong organizational structures. Data from three major national surveys of the American public were examined for three factors presumably related to opinions concerning court sentencing practices: (1) criminal victimization and fear of crime, (2) contact with the criminal justice system, and (3) confidence in government. The survey results also permitted sociodemographic analysis. Two profiles of leniency advocates emerged through simple cross tabular analysis. The more prominent profile revealed individuals who were black, lower class, urban, and young, a segment more likely to be criminally victimized and to be processed by the criminal justice system. The less prominent profile revealed the more traditional white, middle-class or upper-class liberal whose opinions about the courts have more to do with worldview and political ideology. Regression analysis then showed that blacks support leniency to a greater degree than whites, victims of crime to a greater degree than nonvictims, and arrestees to a greater extent than those never arrested. Victims of crime and those arrested for crimes will probably never coalesce to bring about changes in sentencing practices, as this overall group is decidedly small, and unity, political power and organizational capacities too limited to accomplish political support. Further, the black population has taken a harder line on crime, as they experience higher rates of victimization. However, blacks and white liberals are those who spearheaded reforms in the 1950's and 1960's so that their stance for leniency may someday be felt. Several tables, eight footnotes, and 16 references are included.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Cultural influences; Liberalism; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Sentencing reform; Social classes; Social cohesion
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