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NOTE: We already have an item about the death penalty. This item should attempt to capture questions about the general nature of criminal punishment. Are we too lenient on criminals? Are criminals punished too harshly?

Below are 45 questions from surveys in the ARDA that attempt to measure this concept. Mouse over a survey name to see further details on a survey.

COURTS from General Social Survey 2008 Cross-Section and Panel Combined

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harsh39311.0
2) Not harsh enough2,23762.9
3) About right66918.8
8) Dont know2517.1
9) No answer90.3
TOTAL3559100.0


Q39I from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005

Q39 To what extent do you agree or disagree that the federal government should..i. Punish criminals more harshly (Q39I)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly agree51330.5
2) Agree69141.1
3) Disagree29117.3
4) Strongly disagree704.2
5) Undecided1156.8
TOTAL1680100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey 2010 Cross-Section and Panel Combined

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harsh58511.9
2) Not harsh enough3,14764.2
3) About right81516.6
8) Dont know3296.7
9) No answer250.5
TOTAL4901100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 2002

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly1269.2
2) Not harshly enough91967.0
3) About right24017.5
8) Dont know836.0
9) No answer40.3
TOTAL1372100.0


VCF0832 from American National Election Studies, Cumulative Data File, 1948-2004

Some people are primarily concerned with doing everything possible to protect the legal rights of those accused of committing crimes. Others feel that it is more important to stop criminal activity even at the risk of reducing the rights of the accused. Where would you place yourself on this scale, or havent you thought much about this? (VCF0832)
TOTAL%
0) NA; no Post IW5245.1
1) Protect rights of accused1,43613.9
2) 6626.4
3) 6606.4
4) 1,50314.5
5) 1,23011.9
6) 1,07710.4
7) Stop crime regardless of rights of accused1,74216.8
9) DK; havent thought much about it1,50514.6
TOTAL10339100.0


VCF0525 from American National Election Studies, Cumulative Data File, 1948-2004

Republican Party -- respondents rating of party on rights of accused scale (VCF0525)
TOTAL%
0) NA party placement; NA/havent thought much about self-placement (all years); DK/NA self-placement (1972-1978); no Post IW; form III, IV (1972)2,14720.8
1) Protect rights of accused4954.8
2) 5185.0
3) 8318.0
4) 1,91418.5
5) 1,21611.8
6) 6836.6
7) Stop crime regardless of rights of accused4474.3
8) Dont know party placement2,08820.2
TOTAL10339100.0


PUNISH from Baylor Religion Survey, Wave II (2007)

Q37i. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the federal government should punish criminals more harshly? (PUNISH)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly disagree503.1
2) Disagree28417.7
3) Agree64340.0
4) Strongly agree48630.3
8) Undecided1438.9
Missing41 
TOTAL1,606100.0


VCF0524 from American National Election Studies, Cumulative Data File, 1948-2004

Some people are primarily concerned with doing everything possible to protect the legal rights of those accused of committing crimes. Others feel that it is more important to stop criminal activity even at the risk of reducing the rights of the accused. Where would you place the Democratic Party? (VCF0524)
TOTAL%
0) NA party placement; NA/havent thought much about self-placement (all years); dont know/NA self-placement (1972-1978); no Post IW; form III, IV (1972)2,14420.7
1) Protect rights of accused8288.0
2) 9699.4
3) 1,34713.0
4) 1,77517.2
5) 6416.2
6) 2652.6
7) Stop crime regardless of rights of accused2582.5
8) Dont know party placement2,11220.4
TOTAL10339100.0


GUNSDRUG from General Social Survey, 2006

Should penalties for illegally selling guns be tougher, less tough, or about as tough as penalties for illegally selling drugs? (GUNSDRUG)
TOTAL%
1) Tougher73453.5
2) Less tough1047.6
3) About as tough49035.7
8) Dont know312.3
9) No answer120.9
TOTAL1371100.0


SOCPROB1 from American National Election Studies, 2000

Some people say that the best way to reduce crime is to address the social problems that cause crime, like bad schools, poverty and joblessness. (Suppose these people are at one end of a scale, at point 1.) Other people say the best way to reduce crime is to make sure that criminals are caught, convicted and punished. (Suppose these people are at the other end, at point 7.) And, of course, some other people have opinions somewhere in between at points 2,3,4,5 or 6. Where would you place yourself on this scale or havent you thought much about this? (SOCPROB1)
TOTAL%
0) HAVENT THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT THIS392.2
1) ADDRESS SOCIAL PROBLEMS THAT CAUSE CRIME764.2
2) 703.9
3) 804.4
4) 1468.1
5) 834.6
6) 643.5
7) MAKE SURE CRIMINALS ARE CAUGHT, CONVICTED, PUNISHED1347.4
8) DK10.1
9) RF; NA; INAP1,11361.6
TOTAL1806100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 2004

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly1209.0
2) Not harshly enough86164.3
3) About right26619.9
8) Dont know906.7
9) No answer30.2
TOTAL1340100.0


CRIME from American National Election Studies, 2004

Should federal spending on DEALING WITH CRIME be INCREASED, DECREASED, or kept ABOUT THE SAME? (CRIME)
TOTAL%
1) Increased80466.3
3) Decreased403.3
5) Kept about the same35229.0
7) Cut out entirely20.2
8) Dont know131.1
9) Refused10.1
TOTAL1212100.0


PRISONS2 from Houston Area Survey, 1982-2010

Which of these policies do you think would be more effective in reducing crime [rotate]: Giving longer and tougher prison sentences; or: Providing better education and treatment programs to help prisoners return to society? (89, 97, 00) (PRISONS2)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK1306.8
1) Longer sentences87245.3
2) Education/treatment92247.9
TOTAL1924100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 2006

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly2799.3
2) Not harshly enough1,90263.6
3) About right63821.3
8) Dont know1675.6
9) No answer60.2
TOTAL2992100.0


DRUNKS from Houston Area Survey, 1982-2010

For/Against: What about a law that would take away the drivers license of anyone convicted of drunk driving? (86) (DRUNKS)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK254.0
0) Against16126.0
1) For43370.0
TOTAL619100.0


LESSJAIL from Houston Area Survey, 1982-2010

Some states are moving away from the idea of mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? (02) (LESSJAIL)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK213.2
1) Bad idea31949.1
2) Good idea29645.5
3) Both good and bad142.2
TOTAL650100.0


LESSCRIM from Houston Area Survey, 1982-2010

What would be more effective in reducing crime [rotate]: Spending (large sums of/the same) money to send criminals to prison and keep them there a long time; or: Spending (large sums of/the same) money to reduce poverty and to keep young people in school? (91, 94, 96, 99, 10) (LESSCRIM)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK2176.4
1) Longer prison terms1,04631.0
2) Reduce poverty and improve schools2,10862.5
TOTAL3371100.0


ALTSENT from Houston Area Survey, 1982-2010

Which would be the best way of dealing with people who have been convicted of non-violent criminal offenses [rotate]: community service; closely-supervised probation; or: imprisonment? (99, 05) (ALTSENT)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK513.9
1) Community service69052.9
2) Supervised probation37528.7
3) Imprisonment18914.5
TOTAL1305100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 2000

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly2097.4
2) Not harshly enough1,91367.9
3) About right43615.5
8) Dont know2408.5
9) No answer190.7
TOTAL2817100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1990

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly473.4
2) Not harshly enough1,13182.4
3) About right1249.0
8) Dont know654.7
9) No answer50.4
TOTAL1372100.0


W1P16 from American National Election Studies, Panel Study, 2008-2009

Imagine that the U.S. government suspects a person in the United States of being a terrorist. Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose the government being able to put this person in prison for months without ever bringing the person to court and charging him or her with a crime? (W1P16)
TOTAL%
-6) Not asked, unit non-response1,40646.1
-4) Error, see documentation10.0
-2) Missing, see documentation260.9
1) Favor30410.0
2) Oppose1,03233.8
3) Neither favor nor oppose2809.2
TOTAL3049100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1996

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly1354.6
2) Not harshly enough2,24677.3
3) About right31010.7
8) Dont know1976.8
9) No answer160.6
TOTAL2904100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1988

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly573.8
2) Not harshly enough1,20481.3
3) About right1459.8
8) Dont know714.8
9) No answer40.3
TOTAL1481100.0


FEDSPP15 from American National Election Studies, 2002

Next I am going to read you a list of federal programs. For each one, I would like you to tell me whether you would like to see spending increased or decreased: -- PRE-POST SUMMARY: CHILD CARE - FEDERAL SPENDING (FEDSPP15)
TOTAL%
0) NA40.3
1) Increased72653.9
2) Decreased896.6
3) Kept about the same52138.7
4) Cut out entirely [vol]10.1
8) Dont know30.2
9) Refused20.1
TOTAL1346100.0


FED_SP6 from American National Election Studies, 2002

Next I am going to read you a list of federal programs. For each one, I would like you to tell me whether you would like to see spending increased or decreased: -- DEALING WITH CRIME (FED_SP6)
TOTAL%
0) NA50.6
1) Increased47561.6
2) Decreased314.0
3) Kept the same25633.2
8) Dont know30.4
9) Refused10.1
TOTAL771100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1991

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly614.0
2) Not harshly enough1,20279.2
3) About right16911.1
8) Dont know765.0
9) No answer90.6
TOTAL1517100.0


FEDSPP16 from American National Election Studies, 2002

Next I am going to read you a list of federal programs. For each one, I would like you to tell me whether you would like to see spending increased or decreased: -- FEDERAL SPENDING: HOMELAND SECURITY (FEDSPP16)
TOTAL%
1) Increased21969.3
2) Decreased206.3
3) Kept about the same7122.5
8) Dont know41.3
9) Refused20.6
TOTAL316100.0


STIFFPUN from General Social Survey, 1991

Here are some measures to deal with crime. Some people are in favor of them while other people are against them. Do you agree or disagree that . . . People who break the law should be given stiffer sentences. (STIFFPUN)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly agree53239.1
2) Agree60744.7
3) Neither agree nor disagree13810.2
4) Disagree413.0
5) Strongly disagree80.6
8) Cant choose282.1
9) No answer50.4
TOTAL1359100.0


I1LAWS from State of Disunion Survey, 1996

Please tell me how much you think each of the following would help to improve things in this country. How about . . . a. if there were tougher laws and penalties to deter crime? Would that help a lot, somewhat, only a little or not at all? (I1LAWS)
TOTAL%
1) Help a lot1,19559.6
2) Help somewhat57428.6
3) Help only a little1738.6
4) Help not at all643.2
TOTAL2006100.0


SC4HARSH from State of Disunion Survey, 1996

Many believe that crime is one of Americas greatest contemporary problems. How important do you think each of the following is to solving this problem? Is it very important, important, somewhat important, or not important? Harsher sentences (SC4HARSH)
TOTAL%
1) Very important1,04158.4
2) Important42323.7
3) Somewhat important21712.2
4) Not important1025.7
TOTAL1783100.0


V158A from American Mosaic Project: A National Survey on Diversity

Next I will read a list of statements about crime and your community. Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree, with the following statements: The courts are too lenient with criminals. (V158A)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly agree80338.6
2) Somewhat agree62129.9
3) Somewhat disagree37618.1
4) Strongly disagree1959.4
8) Dont know753.6
9) Refused100.5
TOTAL2,080100.0


V158B from American Mosaic Project: A National Survey on Diversity

We need tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. (V158B)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly agree1,31463.1
2) Somewhat agree49223.6
3) Somewhat disagree1507.2
4) Strongly disagree834.0
8) Dont know361.7
9) Refused60.3
TOTAL2,081100.0


DTREHBCR from Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes, 1987-2009

The criminal justice system should try to rehabilitate criminals, not just punish them. (Q10CC) (DTREHBCR)
TOTAL%
1) Completely agree99926.5
2) Mostly agree1,63043.3
3) Mostly disagree57815.3
4) Completely disagree38810.3
9) Dont know/Refused1714.5
Missing28,804 
TOTAL3,766100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1998

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly1756.2
2) Not harshly enough2,09574.0
3) About right37213.1
8) Dont know1796.3
9) No answer110.4
TOTAL2832100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1980

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly483.3
2) Not harshly enough1,21883.0
3) About right1127.6
8) Dont know875.9
9) No answer30.2
TOTAL1468100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1976

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly473.1
2) Not harshly enough1,21080.7
3) About right1489.9
8) Dont know895.9
9) No answer50.3
TOTAL1499100.0


LESSCRIM from Houston Area Survey, 2010

What would be more effective in reducing crime [rotate]: Spending (large sums of/the same) money to send criminals to prison and keep them there a long time; or: Spending (large sums of/the same) money to reduce poverty and to keep young people in school? (LESSCRIM)
TOTAL%
-1) RF/DK344.5
1) Longer prison terms12116.1
2) Reduce poverty and improve schools59579.3
TOTAL750100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1978

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly402.6
2) Not harshly enough1,29784.7
3) About right1117.2
8) Dont know805.2
9) No answer40.3
TOTAL1532100.0


PRISONS from Lilly Survey of Attitudes and Social Networks

We should spend more money on prisons so that we can put criminals away for a long time. (PRISONS)
TOTAL%
0) Refused100.4
1) Strongly agree62724.5
2) Moderately agree42916.8
3) Slightly agree2258.8
4) Neither agree nor disagree451.8
5) Slightly disagree1746.8
6) Moderately disagree37514.6
7) Strongly disagree61223.9
99) Dont know642.5
TOTAL2,561100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1994

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harsh782.6
2) Not harshly enough2,53484.7
3) About right2267.6
8) Dont know1354.5
9) No answer190.6
TOTAL2992100.0


STD_CRIM from Carnegie Council National Surveys of Higher Education, Graduate Student Sample (1975)

Please indicate the extent of your agreement or disagreement with each of the following statements. - There is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals. (STD_CRIM)
TOTAL%
0) Refused5422.5
1) Strongly Agree3,72817.1
2) Agree with Reservations6,61330.3
3) Disagree with Reservations7,42534.0
4) Strongly Disagree3,54316.2
TOTAL21851100.0


CONCOURT from Carnegie Foundation National Survey of Higher Education, Faculty Sample (1975)

Please indicate the extent of your agreement or disagreement with each of the following statements: -- There is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals. (CONCOURT)
TOTAL%
1) Strongly agree5,41722.3
2) Agree with reservations7,65531.5
3) Disagree with reservations7,42030.5
4) Strongly disagree3,80615.7
Missing702 
TOTAL24,298100.0


COURTS from General Social Survey, 1993

In general, do you think the courts in this area deal too harshly or not harshly enough with criminals? (COURTS)
TOTAL%
1) Too harshly543.4
2) Not harshly enough1,30080.9
3) About right1569.7
8) Dont know885.5
9) No answer80.5
TOTAL1606100.0


AGREE1CC from July 2003 Values Update Survey

[ASK ONLY IF FORM=1 1]Now I am going to read you another series of statements on some different topics. For each statement, please tell me if you completely agree with it, mostly agree with it, mostly DISagree with it or completely disagree with it. : The criminal justice system should try to rehabilitate criminals, not just punish them (AGREE1CC)
TOTAL%
1) Completely agree1,40828.7
2) Mostly agree2,13043.4
3) Mostly disagree66613.6
4) Completely disagree53410.9
9) Dont know/Refused1743.5
Missing4,911 
TOTAL4,912100.0


HATECR2B from Southern Focus Poll, Oversample Survey, Spring 1996

[ASKED ONLY OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID HATE CRIME LAWS ARE A BAD IDEA] How do you feel about laws that impose extra penalties on people who vandalize synagogues, churches, mosques, or cemeteries? Do you think that special penalties for this type of vandalism would be a good idea or bad idea? (HATECR2B)
TOTAL%
1) Good idea2558.1
2) Bad idea1432.6
3) Both/neither
4) Dont know/No answer49.3
TOTAL43100.0




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