Browsing by Subject "sentencing"

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  • Kääriäinen, Juha Tapio (2018)
    Opinion polls have repeatedly shown that populations favour severe penalties for offenders. However, surveys using a case vignette method, where the attributes of the case described to the respondents are varied, produce more versatile results. Such research gives a nuanced picture of punitive attitudes. In this study, the sentence decisions of laypeople who are informed about the offender’s criminal history, ethnic background, gender, social issues and substance abuse were examined. A representative mail survey collected in Finland as part of Scandinavian sense of justice research was used as empirical data. Respondents were presented with six criminal cases and asked to determine sentences for them. All respondents received the same vignettes, but the background attributes of the offenders varied randomly. This study showed that all the background attributes had a clear connection to the sentence decisions. Considering these results, the idea of a ‘general punitive attitude’, which is commonly used in academic literature, appears to be too simple of a way to look at the relationship between attitudes and punishment decisions.
  • Kääriäinen, Juha Tapio (2019)
    The aim of this study was to examine the empirical connections of three phenomena among the Finnish population: (1) the level of knowledge on the crime situation and the criminal justice system; (2) the general punitive attitude and (3) sentence decisions in certain concrete crime cases using vignettes. The same vignettes were shown to professional judges to study the punitive gap between laypeople and judges. The research subjects are a representative sample of the population (N = 1251) and district court judges (N = 192). The research resulted in four main findings: (1) a higher level of knowledge among laypeople mitigates their punitive attitudes, (2) information included in the case vignettes is associated with the sentence decisions of laypeople in different ways, depending on the characteristics of the case; punitive gap varies greatly, (3) level of knowledge is, in general, a poor predictor for the severity of the sentence decisions of laypeople and (4) the general punitive attitude is, at best, a weak predictor for the severity of sentence decisions of laypeople. In conclusion, laypeople’s decisions are probably affected partly by the same legal factors as the professional judges’ decisions and partly by attitudes that are expressly related to features of the cases in question.