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NCJ Number: 99527 Find in a Library
Title: Crime, Public Opinion and Trial Courts - An Analysis of Sentencing Policy
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:2  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1985)  Pages:319-343
Author(s): H R Glick; G W Pruet
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 25
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Research examining the relationships between public opinion, crime rates, and sentencing in routine cases from Florida's courts during 1981 found no significant correlations between public opinion and sentencing.
Abstract: Although recent research has demonstrated a link between local attitudes and sentencing in highly visible criminal cases, such crimes are not typical of most trial court work. This study selected burglary, armed robbery, larceny, unarmed robbery, and possession of narcotics sentences from Florida's 20 judicial circuits. They accounted for over 6,000 cases or 60 percent of all cases. Crime rates were based on FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 1980. Public opinion data were gathered via a statewide random digit-dialing phone survey of 923 adults conducted in January and February 1983. Survey questions asked how serious the respondents believed each crime to be, the penalty they would impose, and their concerns about crime and fear of crime. Data analysis revealed little association between the various measures of public opinion and sentencing in any of the five types of crime. The only statistically significant and moderately strong correlation found was the relationship between perceptions of personal safety in the home and sentencing in narcotics cases. The survey also found widespread variations throughout the State regarding fear of crime, perceptions of home safety, support for harsh penalties, and perceptions of other crimes as serious violations. High crime rates generally produced lenient sentencing, with sentencing in Miami being among the most lenient in the State. These findings suggest that local judges act generally according to their own attitudes and workplace interactions without concern for public opinion. Tables, 7 footnotes, and approximately 40 references are supplied.
Index Term(s): Armed robbery; Burglary; Drug law offenses; Florida; Geographical sentencing variation; Larceny/Theft; Public Opinion of Crime; Public Opinion of the Courts; Robbery; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
Note: Revision of a paper prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, September, 1983.
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