Victimization and Punitiveness: Findings From a Statewide Victimization Survey

B. Keith Crew, University of Northern Iowa
Gene M. Lutz, University of Northern Iowa
Jennifer Slocum, University of Northern Iowa

Public attitudes toward appropriate criminal sanctions were studied to examine the relationship between respondents' recent victimization histories and their attitudes toward punitive severity in sentencing. A sample of 2036 Iowans was randomly selected to participate in the Iowa Adult Crime Victimization Survey. The respondents answered questions about their own experiences as victims of crime. Respondents were then read two randomly varied scenarios depicting hypothical crimes, and asked which sanctions would be appropriate for each type of criminal. Respondent victimization experience was not found to predict punitiveness. Age and prior criminal history of the offender were associated with respondents' endorsement of more severe sanctions. The influence of gender, employment history, marital status, education level, race, income, prior arrest record and frequency of using drugs/alcohol on punitiveness was also examined.

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Updated 05/20/2006