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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75485 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and Punishment - Changing Attitudes in America
Author(s): A L Stinchcombe; R Adams; C A Heimer; K L Scheppele; T W Smith; D G Taylor
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 187
Sponsoring Agency: Jossey-Bass Publishers
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
Sale Source: Jossey-Bass Publishers
989 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Time series and cross-sectional data from numerous surveys were used as the basis for this analysis of changing public attitudes toward crime and punishment in America, with emphasis on the contradictory trends toward more punitive attitudes toward criminals and more tolerant attitudes toward various social and civil liberties issues.
Abstract: Following an introductory chapter on data sources and the general issues related to the public as crime victims, the book examines trends over time in crime, media attention to crime, and public reactions to crime. Results show that violent crime and media attention to crime have been increasing, the public has become more fearful and more punitive, and support for gun control has not increased. Next, the indirect causal connection between crime and punitiveness through fear is explored; fear is seen as depending on perceived risks and expected loss of victimization. Another chapter examines the connection between general liberalism and punitiveness. Relationships between attitudes toward race relations and punitiveness and between busing and punitiveness are among the subjects examined. The discussion also explores the concurrent lack of changing attitudes toward gun control and changes in other attitudes regarding solutions to the crime problem. In addition, the book analyzes the one source of collective variation which can be studied with cross-sectional data to illuminate the collective movement of public opinion. The results show that the dynamics of public opinion formation in the central city are different from the dynamics of public opinion formation in other parts of the country. Finally, public policy implications are examined. Tables, a list of 58 references, an index, and an appendix listing the surveys used and their question wordings are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Fear of crime; Gun Control; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Punishment; Surveys; United States of America
Note: Jossey-Bass Social and Behavioral Sciences Series.
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