How Criminology Affects Punishment: Analyzing Conditions Under Which Scientific Information Affects Sanction Policy Decisions

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2023-33

Center for Law & Behavior Research Paper No. 2023-02

32 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2023

See all articles by Malouke Esra Kuiper

Malouke Esra Kuiper

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Chris Reinders Folmer

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Emmeke Barbara Kooistra

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Greg Pogarsky

University of Arizona - Eller College of Management

Benjamin van Rooij

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 18, 2023

Abstract

Criminology has a strong potential to impact criminal justice policy. It is thought that criminology fails to shape policy because of the political context of such policies. The present study analyses, however, whether criminological knowledge has the capacity to shape policy decision making in the absence of an explicit political context. We do so through a vignette study (N = 212) comparing how participants make criminal sanction policy decisions with or without reading criminological findings about the deterrent effect of longer sentences and whether this can be influenced by making harm to victims salient. The study finds that criminological science can impact policy decision making outside an explicit political context, also with salient harm to victims. Our findings show that when there is no explicit political context present, criminological evidence does affect policy making, even when there is a countervailing factor such as victim salience. This shows that the science in of itself need not be the obstacle to better alignment with policy. The study offers a new research agenda to further generalize these results and to work towards a better incorporation of criminology in criminal justice policy.

Keywords: criminal justice policy, criminological knowledge, decision-making, deterrence, policy makers, punishment

JEL Classification: K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Kuiper, Malouke Esra and Reinders Folmer, Chris and Kooistra, Emmeke Barbara and Pogarsky, Greg and van Rooij, Benjamin and van Rooij, Benjamin, How Criminology Affects Punishment: Analyzing Conditions Under Which Scientific Information Affects Sanction Policy Decisions (October 18, 2023). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2023-33, Center for Law & Behavior Research Paper No. 2023-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4605853 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4605853

Malouke Esra Kuiper (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Chris Reinders Folmer

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Emmeke Barbara Kooistra

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Greg Pogarsky

University of Arizona - Eller College of Management ( email )

McClelland Hall
P.O. Box 210108
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-3788 (Phone)

Benjamin Van Rooij

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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