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How the French and German public would like to punish young burglars – Development over 30 years

Fri, Nov 15, 12:30 to 1:50pm, Foothill J, 2nd Level


In 2016 we set out to study “Punitiveness in Comparison” in France and Germany. We wanted to find out which sanctions members of the German and French public as well as criminal justice professionals consider appropriate for petty crimes and crimes of medium severity. One questions that we used in the general population survey was the question from the International Crime Victimisation Survey about a 21-year old recidivist burglar who steals a TV set. With this question, we wanted to find out about the development of public opinion over time. Our survey was conducted by use of an online questionnaire in German and French. The survey was open for respondents from samples provided by two polling institutes in spring 2017 (N = 3,440) and spring 2018 (N = 6,020). A comparison of our findings with data from the ICVS and other populations surveys shows that in both Germany and France answer patters reversed between the 2000s and today with respondents in both countries favoring community service with 50-60% in earlier years and an unconditional prison sentence with 45-50% in 2017. In the presentation, we will discuss possible causes for this change in public opinion.