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: 98430 Find in a Library
Title: Beyond Crime Seriousness - Fitting the Punishment to the Crime
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:1  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1985)  Pages:59-90
Author(s): P H Rossi; J E Simpson; J L Miller
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 32
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study indicates how a factorial survey enhances empirical assessments of the multiplicity of factors influencing citizens' views of appropriate punishments for 50 typical crimes. Findings indicate that citizen judgments about appropriate punishments are influenced by offender and victim characteristics and the consequences of the crimes in addition to the nature of the crime.
Abstract: In factorial surveys, specially constructed vignettes are used to elicit respondent views according to some criterion. In this survey, the vignettes were descriptions of convicted criminals sentenced (randomly) to varying lengths of imprisonment. The vignettes also specified the characteristics of the victims and the nature and consequences of the crime. Respondents were asked to judge the appropriateness of the sentence imposed. Responses were obtained in 1982 from 774 households in the Boston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Several special-interest samples were examined in three alternative ordinary least-squares regression equations. The findings indicate there is not a direct one-to-one relationship between public perceptions of the seriousness of crime types and the preferred sanctions. The influence of crime type on sanction selection is modified by offender and victim characteristics as well as crime consequences; for example, offenders' criminal records affected severity judgments, and crimes against strangers elicited more severe punishment than crimes against persons closely related to the offender. Further, the demographic, experiential, and attitudinal characteristics of the respondents also influenced their sanction selection. The vignette format is outlined, tabular data are provided, and 21 references are listed.
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Factorial research design; Massachusetts; Penalty severity rating; Public Opinion of Crime
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.