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Public Support for Correctional Treatment: The Continuing Appeal of the Rehabilitative Ideal

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 77 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1997) Pages: 237-258
Date Published
22 pages

Public attitudes toward rehabilitation were studied by means of a survey of a randomly selected sample of 1,000 Ohio residents.


Questionnaires were mailed to each member of the sample following Dillman's total design method. The first mailing was distributed in May 1996; reminder mailings followed 1, 3, and 7 weeks later. Five hundred fifty-nine persons returned completed or nearly completed questionnaires. In addition, 105 questionnaires were returned unanswered because the intended recipient could not be located, had moved out of the State, was too ill to complete the survey, or was deceased. The resulting response rate was 62.4 percent. Results indicated that the public still believes that rehabilitation should be an integral part of corrections policy. Furthermore, support for a treatment approach is fairly consistent across demographic groups and across different types of questions used to determine citizens' opinions. Findings indicated that policy makers consistently overestimate public punitiveness and consistently underestimate public support for rehabilitation. Tables, notes, appended sample vignette, and 78 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1997