What's with the attitude? Changing Attitudes About Criminal Justice Issues

Jon T. Mandracchia, Lucas B. Shaw, Robert D. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Public policies related to the criminal justice system in the United States ultimately reflect the attitudes of its citizens. It is surprising, therefore, how few studies have investigated influences on attitudes about criminal justice issues and how narrow the scope of such investigations has been. In this study, we examined the effects of education on attitudes toward several criminal justice issues in college students enrolled in a senior-level forensic psychology course compared to a nonpsycholegal psychology course. Results indicated that education about public policy issues influenced students' attitudes toward the death penalty, prison reform, and the insanity defense. In addition, we examined preexisting differences in these attitudes based on demographic and other status variables (i.e., race, gender, academic class standing) and found that these variables were associated with differences in attitudes about criminal justice issues in a much more complex way than previously considered in the extant literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-113
Number of pages19
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • criminal justice
  • education
  • prison reform
  • public policy

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