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Understanding the Relationship Between Perceptions of Crime Seriousness and Recommended Punishment: An Exploratory Comparison of Adults and Adolescents

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies Volume: 24 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2011 Pages: 3-21
Tomer Einat; Sergio Herzog
Date Published
March 2011
19 pages
This research compared adolescents' and adults' seriousness perceptions of juvenile crimes and punishments.
Crime seriousness research indicates that respondents from varying social and cultural groups rank the perceived seriousness of offenses similarly. Yet, it has also consistently been found that the specific ratings of offenses by respondents from different social groups often differ. Following Sellin's 'culture conflict' theory, the present study argues that youths constitute a social subculture that is not necessarily concordant with the moral values and norms shared by the general adult culture. The purpose of the present research was to compare adolescents' and adults' seriousness perceptions of juvenile crimes and punishments: such research has never been conducted in Western countries. The findings show significant differences between the seriousness and punishment values given by juvenile and adult respondents to violent offenses (high) and to self-use of illegal drugs (low). (Published Abstract)