skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 92339 Find in a Library
Title: Measuring Offense Seriousness - Testing a Perceptually Based Scale (From Measurement Issue in Criminal Justice, P 15-36, 1983, Gordon P Waldo, ed. - See NCJ-92338)
Author(s): R P Kern; W D Bales
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A variety of different approaches to rating the seriousness of crimes give equivalent results in terms of modeling certain types of judicial sentencing behavior.
Abstract: In addition, including perceptually derived weights of seriousness to information on past and present crimes does not appear to improve the ability of these approaches to model judicial sentencing behavior. Nevertheless, normative consideration may make a perceptually derived scale the preferred measure of crime seriousness. Study data came from ratings of 74 crimes by 109 Florida judges and from analysis of sentences given in 5,069 felony cases in Florida. Some of the judges, who were attending their semiannual conference, completed a survey form which asked them to assign a numerical score which compared each crime, described by its statutory definition, to the baseline crime of burglary of an unoccupied structure, which was assigned a score of 100. Other judges were asked to circle a number from 1 to 11 which best represented the perceived severity of the particular offense. The 5,069 cases were examined with respect to a wide variety of factors and their relationships with the sentences given. The frequency of current and prior crimes accurately predicted the decision whether or not to incarcerate. However, the additional information on offense severity substantially improved the ability to predict the length of the incarceration sentence. Data tables, notes, and 30 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Florida; Sentencing factors
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.