Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Alfred Allan

Abstract

Defendants are required to make many decisions during their encounter with the criminal justice system (i.e., plea, venue, representation, bail and, possibly, appeal). The assumption exists that defendants possess sufficient organizational and pragmatic knowledge of the system to make these decisions. However, research suggests that many defendants lack sufficient knowledge of the criminal justice system to make these decisions, and that this lack of knowledge may lead to feelings of anxiety. As a consequence of these findings, many defendants may be unable to effectively participate in the criminal justice system. By way of remedying this situation, it has been argued that the provision of court-related information may increase defendants' knowledge of the criminal justice system, decrease their feelings of anxiety and, therefore, increase their confidence to understand and participate in the criminal justice system. The present study was designed to evaluate this argument, and consisted of three hypotheses: that the provision of court-related information would (a) increase defendants knowledge of the criminal justice system, (b) decrease defendants anxiety concerning their court appearances, and (c) increase defendants confidence to understand and participate in their court appearances. Forty non-convicted, remanded in custody participants were assigned to one of two conditions: experimental and control. The experimental intervention comprised a 40-minute court-related educational session, whilst the control intervention comprised a 40-minute health-related educational session. Pre-test and post-test measures of Knowledge, Anxiety, and Confidence determined the effect of the experimental intervention. Data was analyzed using three analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). The pattern of results found support for the Knowledge and Confidence hypotheses, however, the Anxiety hypothesis was not fully supported. The implications of these results and directions for future research are discussed.

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