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CJB118

Author Craig Jones, Don Weatherburn and Katherine McFarlane
Published August 2008
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 118
Subject Perceptions of crime; Sentencing
Keywords public confidence, criminal justice system, sentencing, leniency, public attitudes, media

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Summary

Aim

This bulletin describes a survey of public attitudes on levels of sentencing and whether the NSW criminal justice system is achieving its various aims.

Abstract

This bulletin describes a survey of public attitudes on levels of sentencing and whether the NSW criminal justice system is achieving its various aims. Consistent with previous research, a high proportion (66%) of respondents felt that sentences imposed on convicted offenders are either ‘a little too lenient’ or ‘much too lenient’. Most were either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ confident that the criminal justice system respects the rights of accused persons (72%) and treats them fairly (75%) but smaller proportions were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ confident that the criminal justice system brings people to justice (54.8%), deals with cases efficiently (43.7%), deals with cases promptly (29.7%) or meets the needs of victims (34.7%). Confidence in the criminal justice system was generally found to be more prevalent among younger people, those who are better educated, those on higher incomes, those who know more about crime and criminal justice and those who reported drawing information about the justice system from broadsheet newspapers, government publications, the Internet or from educational institutions. A large proportion of the public indicated that they would like to learn more about how judges sentence offenders. The results are discussed in terms of the role of the media in the formation of public attitudes toward the criminal justice system.

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