Determinants of Attitudes towards Mentally Ill Offenders
Keywords:criminal offenders, insanity, responsibility, sanctions
AbstractThe study aimed to examine the relationship and effect size of socio-demographic characteristics of participants, their experiences, and attitudes to the explanation of assessments of offenders’ dangerousness and (in)sanity, and sanctions’ severity for their criminal behaviour. Data were collected online on a sample of 257 adult participants with an average age of 29 years (23.7% of men). Generally, after controlling for other variables, assessed offenders’ responsibility was the most consistent and the most important predictor of assessed dangerousness and (in)sanity as well as sanctions’ severity. Attribution of higher responsibility to offender significantly contributes to higher assessment of sanity, dangerousness, and stricter sanctioning. Tendency to attribute criminal behaviour to personal choice and lower belief in the effectiveness of psychiatric treatment of mentally ill persons were also important predictors for attributing higher sanity and dangerousness to criminal offenders.