Author Craig Jones and Don Weatherburn
Published November 2010
Report Type Affiliated publication
Subject Court processes and delay; Sentencing
Keywords Sentencing, public attitudes, punitiveness, confidence, lenience

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Many national and international studies have examined public opinion towards the adequacy of sentencing. A smaller number of studies, particularly in Australia, have tended to look more closely at levels of confidence in specific aspects of the courts. This study describes a survey of the New South Wales (NSW) public bearing on their attitudes towards sentencing and other aspects of criminal justice administration. Consistent with previous research, a high proportion of respondents reported that sentences are either ‘a little’ 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 confident that the 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%). Critically, people who know more about trends in crime, court outcomes and sentencing practices have higher levels of confidence in sentencing and other aspects of the justice system.