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Public responsiveness to declining crime rates in the United States and England & Wales

Public responsiveness to declining crime rates in the United States and England & Wales
Public responsiveness to declining crime rates in the United States and England & Wales
During much of the second half of the twentieth century, public opinion in both the United States and Britain became more punitive as crime rates rose. These shifting public attitudes had a profound influence on criminal justice policies. What is less understood is how public attitudes in these countries have responded to declining crime rates since the early-1990s. To understand how the public reacts to declining crime rates, we focus on crimes recorded by the police as well as data on actual victimisation. We also draw on more than 4,000 national survey questions to construct measures of public concern about crime and support for punitive criminal justice responses. Our analyses illustrate parallels in the crime drop measured by victimisation surveys in the two countries (with recorded violent crime in England and Wales the exception to this overall trend). The over-time patterns in public concern about crime and punitive sentiment are more complex, with the U.S. public becoming less punitive (in line with declining crime rates) while the British public’s concern with crime appears more in tune with actual crime rates. Given the distinct social, political and institutional settings offered by the two countries, the parallel dynamics of crime and the mixed response of public opinion help illustrate the importance of the comparative analysis of crime and its effects on society as well as the importance of considering multiple measures of public opinion related to crime and punishment.
0007-0955
Enns, Peter
930b9e46-a9af-4e35-abab-07a0388df583
Harris, Jacob
ae5b5761-dde2-4552-b29e-dddeed69508f
Kenny, John P
db32975a-c617-4d10-9564-b94c32942f3d
Roescu, Andra
677ffb87-20b5-4cdd-a518-0b29e58aa16b
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7
Enns, Peter
930b9e46-a9af-4e35-abab-07a0388df583
Harris, Jacob
ae5b5761-dde2-4552-b29e-dddeed69508f
Kenny, John P
db32975a-c617-4d10-9564-b94c32942f3d
Roescu, Andra
677ffb87-20b5-4cdd-a518-0b29e58aa16b
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7

Enns, Peter, Harris, Jacob, Kenny, John P, Roescu, Andra and Jennings, William (2022) Public responsiveness to declining crime rates in the United States and England & Wales. British Journal of Criminology. (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

During much of the second half of the twentieth century, public opinion in both the United States and Britain became more punitive as crime rates rose. These shifting public attitudes had a profound influence on criminal justice policies. What is less understood is how public attitudes in these countries have responded to declining crime rates since the early-1990s. To understand how the public reacts to declining crime rates, we focus on crimes recorded by the police as well as data on actual victimisation. We also draw on more than 4,000 national survey questions to construct measures of public concern about crime and support for punitive criminal justice responses. Our analyses illustrate parallels in the crime drop measured by victimisation surveys in the two countries (with recorded violent crime in England and Wales the exception to this overall trend). The over-time patterns in public concern about crime and punitive sentiment are more complex, with the U.S. public becoming less punitive (in line with declining crime rates) while the British public’s concern with crime appears more in tune with actual crime rates. Given the distinct social, political and institutional settings offered by the two countries, the parallel dynamics of crime and the mixed response of public opinion help illustrate the importance of the comparative analysis of crime and its effects on society as well as the importance of considering multiple measures of public opinion related to crime and punishment.

Text
CrimeRates_Punitiveness_Accepted - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 26 January 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 454518
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/454518
ISSN: 0007-0955
PURE UUID: afe138c6-124b-457a-befb-03a20f6ad467
ORCID for John P Kenny: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9401-3555
ORCID for Andra Roescu: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4119-0296
ORCID for William Jennings: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Feb 2022 17:33
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 02:11

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Contributors

Author: Peter Enns
Author: Jacob Harris
Author: John P Kenny ORCID iD
Author: Andra Roescu ORCID iD

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