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What Punishes? Inmates Rank the Severity of Prison vs. Intermediate Sanctions (From Contemporary Community Corrections, Second Edition, P 240-265, 1996, Thomas Ellsworth - See NCJ-163569)

NCJ Number
J Petersilia; E P Deschenes
Date Published
26 pages
In this chapter, offenders rank order both criminal sanctions in general and their individual perceptions of the difficulty of probation conditions.
The study developed an instrument and methodology for measuring offender perceptions of sanction severity and collected data on the following questions: (1) How do inmates rank the severity of criminal sanctions, and which sanctions are judged equivalent in punitiveness? (2) What background characteristics are associated with variations in the perception of sanction severity? and (3) How do inmates rank the difficulty of probation/parole conditions, and how does this affect their ranking of sanctions? Findings support the suggestion that it is no longer necessary to equate criminal punishment solely with prison. At some level of intensity and length, intensive probation is the more dreaded penalty. Findings which identified sanctions considered equivalent to imprisonment should be useful to sentencing commissions attempting to incorporate alternatives into sentencing guidelines. In addition, results of this study suggest that, in the minds of offenders, community-based sanctions can be severe. They can be regarded as satisfactory severe alternatives to incarceration. Tables, figure, notes, references