The Severity of Intermediate Penal Sanctions: A Psychophysical Scaling Approach for Obtaining Community Perceptions

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Vol. 11, pp. 71-95, 1995

24 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2005 Last revised: 10 Nov 2009

See all articles by Robert E. Harlow

Robert E. Harlow

Princeton University - Department of Psychology

John M. Darley

Princeton University

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: 1995

Abstract

The use of intensive supervision programs (ISPs) and other forms of intermediate penal sanctions is increasing in the United States. This paper describes a preliminary investigation of the extent to which informed New Jersey residents believe that intermediate sanctions that are currently being implemented in their state are severe. Using cross-modality matching of magnitude estimation techniques adopted from psychophysics, we obtained severity ratings of 32 sentences across six sentencing modalities (ISPs, probation, imprisonment, home detention, weekend sentencing, and fines) from respondents who had been briefed beforehand about what these sentences entail. Results indicate that respondents agree that ISPs, weekend sentencing, and home detection have retributive bite and may be accepted as sentences in their own right. Probation was seen as being relatively lenient, and imprisonment as highly severe.

Keywords: Punishment

JEL Classification: k14

Suggested Citation

Harlow, Robert E. and Darley, John M. and Robinson, Paul H., The Severity of Intermediate Penal Sanctions: A Psychophysical Scaling Approach for Obtaining Community Perceptions (1995). Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Vol. 11, pp. 71-95, 1995, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=680745

Robert E. Harlow

Princeton University - Department of Psychology

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

John M. Darley

Princeton University ( email )

1-N-17 Green Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-3000 (Phone)

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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