The United States incarceration rate was once on par with other western, industrialized democracies. Dating back to the 1980’s, the United States incarceration rate began to increase exponentially and at an alarmingly high rate, much higher than its comparative countries. Public punitiveness on criminal justice policies has been the driving force behind this. Thus, this study aims to analyze the public’s support for punitive or more rehabilitative criminal justice policies after being presented with accurate information comparing US incarceration rates and its comparative countries since the 1950’s. Participants were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk and given a Qualtrics survey link (N= 207) to complete the survey. The study uses one experimental manipulation to gather this data: respondents in the experimental group received accurate information on incarceration rates between the US, England, Wales, and most Scandinavian countries dating from the 1950’s to 2010. Using t-tests and OLS regression analyses, I found that the information treatment did not reduce respondents’ likelihood of favoring punitive criminal justice policies. The results highlight the limitations of information treatment on changing public punitiveness.
Dr. Luzi Shi, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Emily Brissette, Committee Member
Dr. Hannarae Lee, Committee Member
Coyle, Vinny. (2022). Comparing the US to Other Nations: Experimental Evidence on Changing Public Punitiveness. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 521. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/521
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