Impact of Risk Assessment and Offender Characteristics on Lay People’s Fairness in Judgement and Sentencing of Violent Offenders

Stainsby, Leah and Onwuegbusi, Tochukwu (2022) Impact of Risk Assessment and Offender Characteristics on Lay People’s Fairness in Judgement and Sentencing of Violent Offenders. In: Division of Forensic Psychology Conference, 14-16th June 2022, voco St. John's, Solihull.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Objectives: Criminal stereotypes often interfere with the ability of the criminal justice system to provide fair outcomes, therefore the use of risk assessment information (RAI) has been considered a method to reduce such effects. However, research is limited. To address this gap in the literature, we investigated the effect of offender characteristics (OC) and provision of RAI on sentencing, judgement of risk and social distance kept towards violent offenders.
Design: A 3 (race: Asian, Black, White) x 2 (attractiveness: attractive, unattractive) x 2 (gender: male, female) x 2 (RAI: present, absent) full factorial design was used.
Methods: 239 participants read one of 24 vignettes accompanied by an image from the Chicago Face Database. Following this, they completed risk judgement, sentencing and social distance questionnaires. Analysis was conducted using linear regressions, binomial logistic regression, and four-way between-subjects ANOVA.
Results: Although sentencing decisions were not significantly altered by OC and RAI, risk judgement scores increased. This disfavoured White, female, attractive offenders. Finally, social distance was not affected significantly by OC but increased with the provision of RAI.
Conclusions: This study has revealed that OC can impact sentencing decisions, risk judgement scores and social distance kept between members of the public and a violent offender and that provision of RAI may play an important role in exacerbating the effect of these offender characteristics. Implications of findings are discussed.

Keywords:Risk assessment, risk information, offender characteristics, race, gender, attractiveness, judgement, sentencing, violent offenders.
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:49610
Deposited On:17 Jun 2022 13:50

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