Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Jurors think the judges get it right

Public judgement on sentencing: Final results from the Tasmanian Jury Sentencing Study by Kate Warner, Julia Davis, Maggie Walter, Rebecca Bradfield and Rachel Vermey looks at the reaction jurors to sentences imposed by judges. It's interesting because the jurors generally agreed with the sentences imposed, suggesting the community attitude that sentences are too light is mistaken

To quote the forward:
This seminal study, which was funded by the Criminology Research Council, is the first reported study to use jurors in real trials to gauge public opinion about sentences and sentencing. Using jurors is a way of investigating the views of members of the public who are as fully informed of the facts of the case and the background of the offender as the judge. Based upon jurors’ responses from 138 trials, the study found that more than half of the jurors surveyed suggested a more lenient sentence than the trial judge imposed. Moreover, when informed of the sentence, 90 percent of jurors said that the judge’s sentence was (very or fairly) appropriate. In contrast, responses to abstract questions about sentencing levels mirrored the results of representative surveys. The results of the study also suggest that providing information to jurors about crime and sentencing may be helpful in addressing misconceptions in these areas.

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