Public opinion is vital to the functioning of the criminal justice system but it is not at all clear how best to establish what this is, and what views people have on different aspects of criminal justice and the criminal justice system. Politicians and the media often assume that the public wants harsher, tougher and longer sentences, and policies may be shaped accordingly. Detailed research and more specific polling often tells a different story.
This book is concerned to shed further light on the nature of public views on criminal justice, paying particular attention to public opinion towards specific types of offenders, such as sex offenders and mentally disordered offenders. In doing so it challenges many enduring assumptions regarding people's views on justice, and confronts the myths that infect our understanding of what people think about the criminal justice system.
'This volume, edited by two British psychologists, has as its purpose addressing some of the complexities of public opinion about crime, identifying consistencies in such opinion, and demonstrating circumstances under which public opinion has a measurable impact on policy responses to crime. The authors of the ten chapters are primarily British and US criminologists. The book is divided into two parts. The five chapters in the first part examine such matters as attitude formation and its consequences in relation to such issues as the death penalty. They address the interaction of public opinion with the criminal justice system and the demographics of public opinion. A call for better approaches to research methods, as well as strategies for better educating the public on criminal justice policy, is also part of this section. Part 2 addresses specific dimensions of public opinion in relation to victims, offenders, and the police, among other topics. Victim perceptions affect crime reporting. Altogether, a useful collection of recent research on a consequential topic that should be of interest to a fairly broad audience of students, educators, and policy makers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' – D. O. Friedrichs, University of Scranton in Choice
Preface Part 1: Public Attitudes and Criminal Justice 1. The Psychology of Attitudes and Persuasion, Gerd Bohner and Michaela Wänke 2. Why Public Opinion of the Criminal Justice System is Important, Jane Wood 3. What Shapes Public Opinion of the Criminal Justice System? Jacqueline M. Gray 4. The Myth of Public Support for Captial Punishment, Francis T. Cullen, James D. Unnever, Kristie R. Blevins, Jennifer A. Pealer, Shannon A. Santana, Bonnie S. Fisher and Brandon K. Applegate 5. Achieving Accurate Assessment of Attitudes Toward the Criminal Justice System: Methodological Issues, G. Tendayi Viki and Gerd Bohner Part 2: Victims and Their Offenders 6. The Typical Rape: Factors Affecting Victims' Decision to Report, Margaret A. Wilson and Angela Scholes 7. Attitudes Towards Victims of Crime: A Double-edged Sword? Elizabeth Gilchrist 8. Public Attitudes Towards Offending, Offenders and Reintegration, Natalie Reynolds, Leam A. Craig and Douglas P. Boer 9. Attitudes Towards Sexual Offenders and their Rehabilitation: A Special Case? Sarah Brown 10. Stigma and Offenders with Mental Illness, Patrick W. Corrigan and Jessica L. Walton