Criminalizing Attractions: Public and Policy Maker's Perceptions of Stalking and the Stalker

Angel Ilarraza, Texas Christian University
Ronald Burns, Texas Christian University
Patrick Kinkade, Texas Christian University

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the conceptualization of the predatory stalker came to the forefront of the criminal concerns imagined by the American public. With this growing public concern and the associated media attention, creating legislation designed to enhance punishments against those who might stalk became a political asset and a significant plank for re-election campaigns. Adequate definition for the phenomena, however, has yet to be established and idiosyncratic application of the law at the policing level remains a problem. This study works toward providing better definition of the problem from the public's and policy maker's perspectives. Variables significant to the definition of the problem and the application of associated laws were identified in a literature review and used in survey work to assess their importance in the individual's interpretation of the stalking label. Policy implications will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006