This is the fourth report in the series on Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice produced by the Research and Statistics Division of the Australian Institute of Criminology and it is the second dealing specifically with the important question of public attitudes to crime and punishment. A report in this series published in October 1986 gave the basic result of a large nationwide survey and indicated the public perception of the relative seriousness of a number of criminal offences.
This report moves to the next logical step and shows the actual sentences or penalties that the community believes should be imposed on persons convicted of those offences. It also shows some difference in the level of punitiveness expressed by identifiable sections of the community.
Our system of justice does not, of course, allow private citizens to punish criminal offenders, but the reliable data on public attitudes included in this report should be of assistance to law makers and judicial officers in their difficult tasks.