Accomplices, Accessories, and Punishment Attitudes: The Role of Gender and Education

Victoria M. Time, Old Dominion University
Brian K. Payne, Old Dominion University

Laws of most states stipulate that accomplices and accessories be punished to the same degree as the offenders who actually commit the offense. According to some, these laws may be biased towards females who, when inovlved in crime, are more likely than males to serve as accomplicies and accessories. Moreover, criminological theory and punishment research suggests that individuals' values are influenced by what they have learned. This study considers two areas: (1) whether there are gender differences regarding the way accomplice and accessory laws are perceived, and (21) whether exposure to the law influences indivduals' attitudes about the penalties participants to a crime should get.

A questionnaire was administered to students of a mid-size unviersity. Their responses to the question reveals mixed feelings regarding equal punishment for accomplices and principals. Females were more inclined to advocate punishment for all parties to a crime for deterrence, while males wanted punishment for protection. Implications are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006