Crime And Punishment

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Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

People tend to believe that crime is committed by a small, easily identifiable group of criminals who are very likely to commit further crimes in the future. The majority of the public blame society, unemployment, neighborhood problems, and lack of parental supervision as the major causes of crime, whereas about one third perceive individuals as solely responsible for their criminal acts and explain crime in terms of lack of morals, drug use, and mental or personality problems (Jesilow, Pepinsky, 1992).

More highly educated and self-identified liberal individuals and younger individuals generally attribute more importance to societal inequities, such as unemployment and discrimination, in explaining the high crime rates than do conservatives and older respondents. Despite these differences across backgrounds, all social groups assigned greater importance to environmental factors than to individual dispositional or mental factors as explanations for why crimes generally occurred (Stalans, Lurigio, 2006).

Researchers and professionals often assume that criminal laws and their associated punishment match public opinion concerning the relative moral wrongfulness and harmfulness of different crimes. This model, called the consensual model, assumes that societal members of different gender, social class, and ethnicities agree about what values should be protected and the wrongfulness of certain acts. This model assumes that the public should determine what is and is not a crime or a serious crime, and public support and compliance with the law will be ensured if the laws mirror public views. Research on crime seriousness has been conducted for more than 40 years. This research started with the belief that a scale of seriousness of different crimes could inform police, prosecutorial, and judicial responses to crime, and by matching public and professional responses to crime, the public's confidence in the system would be warranted (Jesilow, Pepinsky, 1992).

To determine whether the consensual ...
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