The Intuitive Sentencer: Public Attitudes to Prior Offending
Where does the intuitive sentencer stand with respect to the use of previous convictions at sentencing? At first glance the answer would seem straightforward. A survey of the general public in the United Kingdom on whether they would support a ‘three strikes and You're out’ scheme, whereby offenders automatically receive a prison sentence if they are convicted of any three crimes, revealed that four-fifths of the polled public endorsed this tough recidivist sentencing proposal. These results suggest that public support for cumulative sentencing is overwhelming — and for an offender convicted for only the third time. In reality, community reaction to the punishment of repeat offenders is more nuanced. This chapter explores the nature of public opinion with regards to the sentencing of repeat offenders. First, it discusses related research in the field of public attitudes to the recidivist sentencing premium. This is followed by a description of findings from original research drawing upon a survey of the public in the United Kingdom.
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