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European Union Operational Programme Administrative Capacity Public Opinion, Crime and Criminal Justice Sofia March European Union Operational Programme Administrative Capacity Public Opinion, Crime and Criminal Justice Sofia March 26, 2009 Julian Roberts Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

What I want to do § Summarise findings from 30 years of research on What I want to do § Summarise findings from 30 years of research on attitiudes towards, and knowledge of criminal justice; § Highlight methodological problems; § Describe 3 specific simple research studies which show the “true public opinion” in the area of legal punishment; § Draw some conclusions The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Overview: Why study public opinion? § Poor knowledge leads to negative attitudes, unrealistic expectations Overview: Why study public opinion? § Poor knowledge leads to negative attitudes, unrealistic expectations and low confidence – Low confidence associated with disengagement from system, public less willing to serve as jurors, witnesses, report crimes – Negative attitudes puts pressure on judges to impose tougher sentences – Public criticism encourages “get tough” policies that have little effect The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Public Misperceptions that undermine confidence in CJS § § § § crime trends recidivism Public Misperceptions that undermine confidence in CJS § § § § crime trends recidivism rates % of crime involving violence Severity of sentencing practices Ability of sentencing to control crime Leniency of parole system (over-estimates) Prison life The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Public confidence/ performance ratings of CJ professions § Same hierarchy in all countries in Public confidence/ performance ratings of CJ professions § Same hierarchy in all countries in which surveys have been conducted; § Police at top – rated most positively; courts and parole authorities most negatively; § Confidence levels same as performance ratings The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

BCS: % saying “good or excellent job” 199 19 20 200 6 9 0 BCS: % saying “good or excellent job” 199 19 20 200 6 9 0 1 2 8 0 / / 0 0 2 3 Police 64 60 53 47 48 Prison 38 s 32 30 26 25 Magist 27 rate s 29 26 Judge s 20 23 21 29 25 CPS 23 Source: Nichola and Walker (2004) N/ 23 27 23 The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund. A

Why are the public misinformed? § § § Biased media coverage; Politics of punishment; Why are the public misinformed? § § § Biased media coverage; Politics of punishment; Criticism of system by criminal justice professionals; § Complexities of the Criminal Justice system – make the system hard to understand – parole for example; § Psychology of attitude formation. The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Public Opinion Research: some warnings § Polls are often designed to influence as well Public Opinion Research: some warnings § Polls are often designed to influence as well as to measure public opinion; § Surveys seldom offer a clear choice or attach costs to competing criminal justice policies; § Public knowledge of criminal justice is seldom measured or considered The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Example of Misuse of Polls § Question: “Should there be a reform of our Example of Misuse of Polls § Question: “Should there be a reform of our justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious offenders? ” The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Effect of Information on Opinion: 3 international research examples § § § Sentencing burglars Effect of Information on Opinion: 3 international research examples § § § Sentencing burglars in UK Home Confinement in Canada Parole for murder in Canada The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Attitudes to sentencing § Poll: between 70 and 80% of public believe courts too Attitudes to sentencing § Poll: between 70 and 80% of public believe courts too lenient at sentencing: UK; US; Australia; Canada; Belgium; Barbados; New Zealand. § But do polls tell the whole story? The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Result changes when people given an actual case to sentence § “A man aged Result changes when people given an actual case to sentence § “A man aged 23 is convicted of domestic burglary. He broke into a house belonging to an elderly man while the victim was away. The offender has previous convictions for the same crime (burglary), stole a videoplayer and damaged a TV set. ” § Court outcome: 3 years in prison reduced on appeal to 2 years. § How do the public react? The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Public Reaction to Home Confinement in Canada § Canadian example: terms of custody of Public Reaction to Home Confinement in Canada § Canadian example: terms of custody of up to 2 years may often be served at home with home confinement or a curfew: – Offender sentenced to 12 months for assault goes home – what do the public think about this? The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Effects of providing information to Public: An Illustration § Representative survey of public § Effects of providing information to Public: An Illustration § Representative survey of public § Random assignment to condition A or B § All respondents asked to consider case of burglary: § “An offender is to be sentenced for break and entering into a hardware store and stealing £ 1, 500. He has committed similar offences in the past”. The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Condition A § “The judge is trying to decide between a 6 -month prison Condition A § “The judge is trying to decide between a 6 -month prison sentence or 6 months to be served in the community as a community-based sentence of imprisonment (conditional sentence)”. § Which do you favor? The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Condition B § The judge is trying to decide between a 6 -month prison Condition B § The judge is trying to decide between a 6 -month prison sentence or 6 months to be served in the community as a community-based sentence of imprisonment (conditional sentence). If the offender receives the conditional sentence he will have to pay back the money, perform community work and report to authorities twice a week. § Which do you favor? The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Public Sentencing Preferences Condition A Condition B Prison 72% 35% Home Confinement 28% 65% Public Sentencing Preferences Condition A Condition B Prison 72% 35% Home Confinement 28% 65% The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Methodological Lessons § Public seldom given adequate amount of information about an issue such Methodological Lessons § Public seldom given adequate amount of information about an issue such as the use of custody or mandatory sentencing; § When asked about specific cases, little detail is ever provided; § The consequence is that surveys elicit a punitive attitude; § Multi-method approach necessary: consider polls in light of qualitative and experimental research findings The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Early parole for murderers in Canada § The law: jury reviews applications received after Early parole for murderers in Canada § The law: jury reviews applications received after prisoner has served 15 years of a 25 year minimum sentence; § Polls on public attitudes to parole for murderers; § Results of jury reviews to date; § Lessons learned The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Summarizing Public Attitudes to Sentencing § Members of public: – Know little about sentencing Summarizing Public Attitudes to Sentencing § Members of public: – Know little about sentencing practices – Have unrealistic expectations of sentencing – Are aware of the limitations of custody – Support community penalties – Public favour punitive response but … – Respond more like judges when given more than a newspaper headline to consider The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

How to respond to public opinion § Competing Models – Ignore public – Follow How to respond to public opinion § Competing Models – Ignore public – Follow public opinion (referenda) – Incorporate public opinion directly: sentencing by juries – Incorporate public opinion in a limited fashion: examples: Federal Sentencing Commission (US); Sentencing Advisory Panel (UK); Sentencing Commission (Canada); Sentencing Council (Victoria). The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Thanks for your time and attention! The project is implemented with the financial support Thanks for your time and attention! The project is implemented with the financial support of Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity”, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.