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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
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