Public opinion and criminal justice: Emotion, Morality and Consensus
Taylor and Francis
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
The following article is a discussion of some of the findings of the first author's recent doctoral research on the public's reasoning about criminal justice. Psychosocial implications of the research are examined. Specifically, the discussion sounds a note of caution about assuming that the public is emotional or moralistic in its evaluations of offences or that there is a consensual body of public opinion about criminal justice. Analysis of research findings showed little evidence that the public makes punitive judgments about criminal offences on the basis of emotional or moral concerns and there was extensive variability in the data. The article provides sufficient empirical background to inform the discussion but it is not intended as a comprehensive research report.